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My pets -
Thanks a million for your letter Ned dear - with lotsa grand news - you are all the family rolled into one - no one else remembers to write to me much - not even one page each in the one letter - I really begin to wonder sometimes if I really have a family at all - but perhaps Xmas will bring me some nice letters.
Have you received all my mail ere this - this is my 4th or 5th since the beginning of the war & did you receive one with a note in for Aunt Eily? I'm very anxious to hear what she wants me to do about her coat? Don't forget to let me know at once. I also haven't forgotten all your birthdays - but I can't remember if I mentioned them - anyway here's good wishes to Patsy & Ces - they are long past but I'll be in plenty of time for yours on December 2nd & Wal's on Dec. 30th, so all the best kids dear - I don't know Wal's address to write him - nor do I know Alma's - PLEASE give them to me in your next letter & tell them to be sure to write to me - especially as I'm stranded in cold, cold London for another Xmas. I didn't anticipate that so your letters will all be manna from heaven for me - Kids dear I will only be able to send you lots of grand wishes & all my love this Xmas instead of the usual £2 - I'm sorry, but now I'm in the war I am not the thriving private nurse I used to be & so far haven't quite managed to balance my budget on £1.19.5 per week - with rent, fares, food & etc. - so I know you'll understand. I'm keeping what I had saved up ready to get home later with so I don't want to spend my fare - that really is my one comfort so far - but I hope this war doesn't go on too much longer - its so senseless & stupid isn't it?
Mum dear I'm glad you came down to Sydney for a holiday - it will do you good - to see Peter & Ces before he went to Camp - also you will be able to get all my latest news from Auny Eily - we had a grand time here with them & I missed her very much when she left. I guess Mrs Griffen also told you how well I looked. For your Xmas present I've had a photo taken - I'm sending it ordinary mail so be sure & keep an eye open for it - its not so hot really - I had it taken on my home after night duty one early morn - consequently I'm slightly hollow-eyed - but you'll have some idea how I thrive here - despite everything - I'm sending one to the Bridles too - so if I die in this great war you can have a memento - how sad!!!!
I'm still at my First Aid post and enjoying it muchly - we haven't had much to do - only minor casualties amongst the canteen people & the demolition squad - the ambulance drivers are more careful - we've had only mock air-raids to date, thank heaven, but Monday morning we really thought we had a real raid - the sirens went in London, but as usual it was all an unnecessary tangle & we were tricked. It's a queer strange war - all we do is keep on waiting but I can't help thinking it is such a hopeless useless war that may drag on for ages simply because no nation will trust the other - Russia is being awkward but we asked for it & I'm so afraid we may muddle everything - thank heaven for Providence. Anyway I expect things will happen soon, we can't go on much longer in this indefinite state - time will tell. I can't send you any papers these days because we are not allowed to do so thro the post - I must tell Earle so too.
My dear pets - I've just had the most beautiful letter from my Ces - so full of all the very things I've been wanting to hear from home & my grand Australia ever since the war began. Just how thrilled I was is nobody's business & we all just adored his letter - I will write him next time & do show him this - tell him Twinkle is waiting for him to keep that date in the Circus - Piccadilly - in a few months time - I hope & want the lads to come over, but I keep on saying thank heaven our Australians are not in the trenches in France or in camp in England this vile weather - its so cold & bitter - so damp & awful even now - I hope the poor darlings will survive - it must be really awful to be sitting down behind the Maginot Line in this slush, waiting for things to happen - Life, for everyone seems to be one long period of waiting for everyone these queer war days - we spend our time mostly in bed when we're off duty (it's the warmest place) listening to the wireless & going to newsreels 6d seats - we get so much information from the good old newsreels - we go each change of program - besides we can easily manage 6d worth of pictures - 2/6 is much too excessive for us. You really would laugh at us trying to live on our £1.19.5 - the beginning of our pay week is full & plentiful, but at the end towards payday we tighten up & design our meals & etc. according to our purses - today is Friday & we collect tomorrow, consequently we are "lying low" - I have 1/11 left & Twink has 1/8 - really its doing us good - don't think we aren't getting enough to eat - the meals here (on duty) at the Canteen are excellent - this week we are on the 7am - 2pm shift - we get up at 5.30am, have a bowl of crisps & a cup of hot coffee - we make the coffee the night before & keep it ready in a thermos - it gives us a few minutes extra in bed - we leave home about 6.10am, catch our train - it is a long distance into the Strand - on duty at 7am. At 1pm we dash along to the Canteen to have a good lunch - probably roast lamb, mint sauce & lots of baked potatoes, cabbage - all that for 10d. Nice plate of steamed pudding for 2d or 3d - then we go off duty at 2pm - usually walk a part of the way home, then catch the underground - get home about 4pm, have some tea - only food a ginger nut - do all our chores for the next morn - clean shoes, washing, ironing, letter writing etc. then if we have a date we go out to a newsreel - or some place - home to bed early & up at 5.30am once more - this is our life just now & this is our most strenuous shift really - except that one can't go out at night the 2pm - 9pm shift is very easy - we have long mornings in bed - nice - we haven't a great deal to do on duty - just a few odd casualties amongst the folk here - making dressings etc. I'm knitting a sweater & darning my hose in between times - we don't go into town - it's too tempting, so for our purses sake we remain to shop locally - it's safer.
I've just sent off all my Xmas cards my pets. I hope you all receive them - if I've missed any one darlings let me know - it is so vague & hopeless the mail tangle these days - I'm going to post a wee pair of bathing trunks to Peter Graham Smith for Xmas. I purchased them ages ago, but heaven knows when I'll arrive, so I shall put them in an envelope & send them ordinary mail & darlings - your Xmas present consists of a portrait of your darling daughter - first born - I had it taken one morn on my way home from night duty just before my old lady died - I look slightly dumb & hollow-eyed - but you will see how fit I look & will be something to keep until you see me in person - I find I have already told you this in the beginning of my letter - I'm soft, pets, but I have been days writing this & forgot the start - but keep an eye open for it & you can send it to all the family & folk to see - until you see me in person.
Darlings I feel a wee bit regretful at missing all the excitement of arriving home for Xmas, but I'm glad I'm in London - it's much safer than going home just now with all this U-boat business going on - imagine me suddenly losing ALL my belongings in mid-ocean - being brought back to England in borrowed clothes!! - whatever would one do? - It's much better for me to stay put & do whatever I can if I'm needed. In the meantime we just mark time here - and we are lucky enough to be having a pleasant time, on & off. I'm loving London really - the Army, Navy & Air Force everywhere, bless them - it's quite gay & debonair to go about town these days - it's such a friendly, casual London - it's getting the real 1915-1918 wartime swing & atmosphere now & we thrive on it - this week we have been out twice to dinner - to the Cumberland and a darling little French place - very exclusive in Jermyn Street - we were very excited & thrilled - mostly when I go out it is to the newsreel & modest places - but we were in luck this week & it's lotsa fun - so don't worry about me.
What I would like tho are some more photos of the family - all the girls have family portraits but me - I feel I have no - Ces darling - do send me some snaps or something of you in uniform - I'm just dying to see you & what you look like - please do this for me kids, for sure - then Ned dear I think I'd like you to send me one of the Xmas hampers or a Xmas cake or something - David Jones used to pack them and send them off - use your discretion but I feel I'd love one this year & we will be eating lots at the flat in winter, especially when we're on night duty & you know the rationing begins on Dec. 16th - so a hamper from home of heavenly Australian food would be bliss - I'd love it beyond everything - so use some of my cash & send me one - AND do find out if its possible to send in a sealed tin one of my mummy's Xmas cakes - I'd be thrilled absolutely to bits. Ere this you have seen Aunt Eily & heard all her news - I'm still wondering what she would like me to do with her coat - isn't it a hopeless tangle this war - duty on everything is colossal these days it seems - alas - one didn't plan for a war - now it looks like going on indefinitely in this half-hearted fashion.
I've simply not had a minute to write to dear old Gran & Papa lately - sp please let them know all my news & activities - I'll write when I can - I've sent them all Xmas cards - ordinary mail - I couldn't send Wal one - I've no idea of his address so he is included in the family fold - remember to send Alma's address also & all the questions I've asked - do answer kids - I'm bursting to hear news again - I've read Ces' letter about 10 times & can't stop - it was so nice, enthusiastic & newsy & very very much after my own heart. I want lots & lots more - AND photos - so that's that.
What of Earle - I've not had a line from him for weeks - is he OK? Poor lamb he'll hate being such miles from anywhere - as Lautoka seems to be - time will tell, but I hope he doesn't do anything rash before his holidays are due.
Tons of love darlings - & a happy happy birthday for 2nd Dec. Ned & Wal dear for Dec. 30th - a big hug to you all - Bless you darlings,