14/1/42 I got a cable from you to-day saying you are in hospital with jaundice. How horrible for you. I expect you are very fed up just as you are starting your new job. It is disappointing. And jaundice is a very depressing disease. Have you any books? If not I am afraid you will be very melancholy.
21/1/42 The first number of “The Dairy Farmer” has arrived, and contains a review of A to F. It says “Its author has manifestly learnt more about farming in one year than many people do in a lifetime.” I like good reviews from farming papers.
22/1/42 The news has just begun. How inconceivably badly we are doing in the Far East. The Japs seem to be able to do exactly what they like.
23/1/42 I am aghast at the Far East. I wonder what will happen next. I should hate to be in Australia.
24/1/42 We seem to be literally throwing the war away in the Far East.
Frankie expresses bitterness at the management of the war and especially of the MOI and other sources of war news. Quentin Reynolds was a journalist.
26/1/42 Quentin Reynolds, broadcasting from America last night, threw in the remark that 1945 would be the peak year for U.S.A. naval production. If this is the beginning of accustoming the public mind to an acceptance of 1945 in place of the long promised 1943 I am going to throw up the sponge and stop trying at all. The muddle and inefficiency is becoming so obvious that it can no longer be completely hidden by constant exhortation to all the people who are doing their best to do it harder. I for one am beginning to be extremely bitter and angry. I look forward to months without letters and years without seeing you …..
I wrote you a letter some weeks ago explaining that the milk position on the farm was very far from satisfactory, and that this was due partly to the fact that many of the cows weren’t quite good enough and partly to the fact that the labour in the cowshed was inadequate. Nothing was done quite well enough and it was no good buying better cows until the management was better. It seemed a good moment to have a TT test done in the hope that some of the reactors would be cows we were going to sell anyway. This worked out quite well. We had five, two good and three bad, which would have been sold anyway. We shall probably get the licence which would mean an appreciation of £250 in the herd’s value.
If I could once get the management right it would be quite easy to improve the cows.
I wish I knew where you were and I wish you’d have a spell at Wilmcote and me in Tobruk. I personally think mine is by far the harder part — but then I think of the flies and the heat and the lack of water and I begin to wonder. This morning’s airgraph told about Shillaker. I guessed it was that. What a nice reward to get invalided home. You might try a jag. Phil said there was only one way for ordinary people to get home and that was to disgrace themselves. (?? Explain?)
30/1/42 It turns out they will need chaps for the two places I told you Reggie Fellowes is going to, ending in N & Q, and some of these would be railways jobs, so Thicknesse thinks I might go to one of them. (Iraq and Iran. He went to Iraq first and later to Iran)
3/2/42 I got two airgraphs to-day. I hadn’t realised you were ill directly you got to Tobruk. I have never had the cable from there. I thought you had worked there for at least two or three weeks. Your descriptions of the hospital there remind me of the Crimea and make me feel perhaps I should chuck everything here and force my way to the front as the 1942 Florence Nightingale. It makes me so angry. It couldn’t happen nearer England, the fuss would be too great, but when this lousy country has sent people to the ends of the earth in its defence it’s safe to treat them anyhow.
10/2/42 Our new cowman arrives to-day. I do hope he will be a success. It will make the whole difference to our future fortunes.
I have decided to take the Tribune again and the Labour Monthly. Would it be alright to send them on to you? Or are they too noticeable a colour to be discreet? Not that you seem to care much about discretion — you write some staggering things on airgraphs. You ask if your letters are censored. They show no sign of it.
The news is bad. We have obviously lost Singapore, tho’ there is no announcement yet. Criticism of Winston seems to be growing not so much because people are dissatisfied but because he is so dictatorial, and makes so many statements like “The responsibility is mine”, as tho’ that were relevant to the situation. But the whole community really loves him.
13/2/42 I got three photographs this morning and one of them is really like you. Jan, who is staying here, was trying to find out the other day if the children really remembered you at all. I showed this photograph to T and said “Who are these two men?” He said at once “That one’s Daddy but I don’t know who the other is”. Rose was there so it was impossible to know whether she would have known or not but my impression is that she didn’t know you from Adam. She hardly could know you. She wasn’t two when you went away nearly 2 ½ years ago.