From January 1952 until July 1953 I lived in Austria. from the letters which I received at this time I have a good picture of my parents’ life in Park Road, Pendleton.
On Tuesday 15 January my Mother wrote she was practicing an hour a day. On Monday she had been to Accrington for a lesson with Mr. Bridge who very pleased with her work.
“I had a piece by Grieg which was not very successful last week. This week I asked him to play it for me and he said, I shall not play it any better than you have just played rather exaggerated, but so very kind…
Burgess and Maclean are said to be in prison in Russia.
She asked me about the food in Austria. Britain was still rationed with very small quantities of staple foods. Austria was quite different no shortages, good food in the Moser Hotel where I was living at first and amazing ice cream shops with wonderful ices in hazelnut and real fruit flavours. The contrast in the two countries situations was so great that I sent food parcels home. One arrived on March 21.
During the Easter holidays mother came to spend a holiday with me. We visited Vienna and Triste.
Dad who stayed at home wrote flatteringly to me on April 10,
“If you go on writing such interesting letters we will be having a second Madame de Sevigne, but instead of writing to her daughter (Madame de Grignan) it will be you writing to your Mother.
I had of course read Swiss Family’Robinson but not seen the film, indeed did not know it had been filmed. I fancy it would be a most difficult story to film and departure from the narrative would be unavoidable. Talking of films and books .. I have just read a book by A.G. Street, the frequent broadcaster in “Any Questions”, it was quite good, the title was quaint, “Already walks tomorrow”.
That remark reads strangely in 1994. The letter he was writing which was to provide material for a portrait of him in this year was an illustration of that quaint title.
I had evidently told him that our Ambassador’s name was Goschen.
“That Ambassador’s name is not a common one. I remember as a young man reading of Lord Goschen. He was First Lord of the Admiralty and was connected with Joey Chamberlain. I often smile when I think of old Joey. The story goes he went to America to approve his son’s choice of a wife, a Miss Elliott, if I remember rightly, and approved so well that he married her himself.
I see from the morning paper that the long drawn out litigation between Fergusson of tractor fame and Fords has come to an end. Fergusson having been awarded over a million pounds for infringement of patent rights. The case reminded me of that celebrated one in Charles Dickens novel Bleak House. You remember it don’t you? Jarndyce v. Jarndyce.