22nd February 1961

February 22nd 1961



My Dearest Maureen,

Went to Messing meeting this morning and had an interesting time. It seems hard to believe but I spoke for nearly an hour bringing up various points ranging from the introduction of fresh fruit and fresh bottled milk to the daily menu, to the dirty state of the whole place.  I carried on about the dirty plates, tables, floor etc and also requested that an old cutlery rinse be attended to as it stunk something ‘orrid.

I did also say how much the meals have improved since the new Catering Officer had been with us.  He took the bait just fine and after that he agreed with everything I said.  It’s good talking to the senior ranks on an equal footing.  There are just us 4 airmen who represent 1500 living-in airmen and it’s up to us to put forward constructive proposals and any complaints received.

We have been granted access to the Catering Officer to raise complaints at any time.  Also, we may wander around the kitchen if we wish, just to check what goes on.  Today I was called a forceful person with a ‘never say die’ attitude, which is very complimentary.

It has been a marvellous day today.  The weather was just great and after said meeting I went back to work to find three letters waiting for me.  Quite honestly I didn’t expect letters this morning because only yesterday I received eleven Maureen Brown – type pages.  So, in two days this ‘ere lucky lad has received 22 wonderful pages.  Life is wonderful sometimes.

Other letters received today were from two of my sisters.  One from Marian, she is the 19 year old that intended to join the WRAF.  She has since changed her mind, which is a big relief to me. She would have been silly to join that mob.  She has also accepted the fact that her notorious brother has been tamed at last.  She writes: ‘How are you.  Thanks for your very nice letter.  That’s smashing news about you getting engaged at Christmas.  What’s her surname?  How old is she?  Where does she live?  It’s no good asking if she’s nice, she obviously is?’  Typical woman always wanting to know everything.  I have always got on well with my sister and we always share our secrets.  She is sworn to secrecy about next Christmas engagement.

She says my nephew Richard built a bird table for their garden and everybody trying to be nice said how good it was.  He has now built three more and stuck them in the garden.  Apparently the birds have been sitting on the clothes line trying to work out what they are.  Still, the lad seems to have the right idea about being helpful to others which is the main thing.

The other letter was from my sister Irene (Rene to you).  She has yet to hear all about Miss Maureen Brown but being a woman wants to know everything.  She writes ‘hope you are behaving yourself and how’s your love life?’  She goes on to invite me over to see them one weekend next time I’m home.  She says the kids would love to see me.  Don’t know about that, they almost murdered poor old me the last time.  Young Mike plays football and every time I’m around he seems to be practicing penalty kicks against my shins.  Whenever I catch him and hit him on his ‘you know where’ his sister Christine belts me from behind.  It’s all go – kids! – but they are great.  My brother-in-law also has words to say about West Ham United, he supports Spurs.

Heard good news today, I was told confidentially that I needn’t bother to buy Jersey, RAF Pattern, one, for the use of… (as it says in the book)

All that jazz about the jersey means that in early April I’ll receive about £3 – 10s to my credit in hard cash, this being unspent clothing allowance.  Perhaps you will understand now why I didn’t buy myself a new working blue uniform.  It’s all money.  Now, let’s see what I can do with this newly acquired wealth – oh yes, your birthday in May, so mustn’t forget to put 9d away for card, birthday, one, for the use of.

You ought to have seen this room last night.  A dozen slobs drinking whiskey etc, playing cards and smoking like old chimneys.  Being a good lad your Alan abstained from this gathering.  You can have too much of a good thing and I’m sure you won’t want an old boozer for your husband, so it’s best that the taste isn’t acquired.

Saw a scruffy looking individual slouching across Squadron Compound with hands in pockets so without considering the consequences I shouted in my best Oxford accent ‘Smarten yourself up airman!’ Whereupon this guy who was too shocked to look around, immediately took his hands out of his pockets and marched the rest of the way without even turning his head.  If only he knew.  I’ll have to watch myself in future otherwise I’ll find myself in trouble.  After I had shouted ‘my command’ the words seem to echo very loudly around the Squadron – a bit too loud for my liking.

This ‘ere charlie has been unable to skive off the parade due on Saturday.  This is really bad. If this happens again I will have to report sick. I mean to say – me go on parade, it’s disgusting, no individuality, it’s plain miserable, they’ll expect us to march next instead of walking – my word, what a game, shocking.

Tomorrow is a great day for all airmen.  Why?  You may ask.  Just two little words Pay Parade!!  Y’know, that paper stuff.  Enclosed is one shilling postal order for that Valentines Day bet.  Glad you won Maureen might have been a bit worried if you had received 4 cards.

Have just returned from visiting one of my mates in Akrotiri Hospital.  He has suspected poisoning of the leg.  He cut it yesterday whilst playing football and then went to Station Sick Quarters for a dressing hoping to stop any possibility of infection. Well, some idiot Flight Sergeant put the wrong ointment on it and this resulted in the subsequent poisoning.  Poor Pete seemed happy enough tonight as I sat munching his chocolate.  He likes the idea of lying in bed all day as he regards it as extra leave, which is the bright way to look at things.

Haven’t read Forever Amber yet Maureen.  Think I’ll pop up to the Education Section and see if they have it in their library.  Have always heard many comments about this story so guess it’s best I read it before I get home because I’ll never have another chance, will I?  Don’t bother to tell me the best pages, I’ll find them.

Your aunt sounds like a nice person to know.  The sort of person who has seen a bit of life and is thus in a position to give good advice then needed.  She obviously knows how to talk to people and can probably assess a person’s character pretty well (I’m worried!).

You talking about being hot and shedding clothes reminds me of a card game I once had.  That’s all about that…

Hope you have a good time at Marjorie’s wedding.  This is one day when I should be beside you to meet everybody and make sure you don’t have too much port and lemon.  Bet there will be some talking going on between you and your mates.  In a few years time you’ll be having a real mother’s meeting and don’t ask me how I know, please.

On Friday I will be going to the Post Office again to put some £35 in my book because it will be then that I collect the money refunded from my air ticket.  When I get home I will probably put in a take-over bid for the Bank of England.  It will be between me and Charlie Clore.  This way I will be your boss in more ways than one!  ‘ark at me kidding myself I could boss you around, you with that right cross of yours.

Oh well darling, it will soon be the weekend again. It means quite a bit of washing and ironing but I don’t mind that so much because it means that it is one weekend less to get through to August.

This guy of yours can almost imagine Dagenham Heathway Station waiting room now, on a warm autumn night in late August.  I’ll be sitting there having my last cigarette waiting for the midnight train to East Ham and looking back over this nightmare that separated us now.  It will all be like a bad dream once it’s over.  Still, not long now.  Keep knocking the day off in your diary darling and your Alan will be home and courting you again.

One last thing darling and that is the usual as you know it, that I’m always thinking of you and love you with all my heart.  I am yours, always.

All my love



Letters from Alan Week 7: 19th - 25th February 1961

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