Baker, James

Letter
Date:
August 16, 1941
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Aug 16th, 1941

Dear Mom,

This has been quite an eventful trip to hospital. Three friends came over from Godstone last Sunday - all of 100 miles round trip, and took me over to Windsor Castle which I had been vowing I would sometime visit after getting a momentary glimpse of it nearly 15 months ago. Frankly I was disappointed by it upon closer inspection, but when seen from a distance in its proper perspective it again assumes that fairy-like unrealness that so enchanted me a year ago. Situated as it is on the top of the highest hill in the immediate countryside - overlooking the beautiful winding Thames, it dominates the whole countryside, dwarfing everything within sight into insignificance. It is by far to be content with a view from the distance.

Kim has been up to see me. She has been on night duty and is feeling very tired and glum and rather disgusted with conditions under which she has to work and I am afraid it did not cheer her up very much to see the ideal conditions under which the Sisters work here - for believe me, this hospital is a nurse's idea of Heaven! I pity the Imperial soldiers, no wonder they hate to leave us when they have once tasted the life we Canadians lead!

Today I went for a lovely long ride in a launch on the river. I really enjoyed it immensely. The Thames is a beautiful river, quite the most beautiful in the world I think. It seems to set the pace and to be the symbol of all English life. That is why Englishmen are so slow and stolid - seemingly, for who could fail to be majestic in the face of such majesty as this? And now for the most important news of all. I have saved it for the last because suspense doubles enjoyment!

Last week Lady Astor introduced me to George Bernard Shaw and he and I had a quiet little chat all by ourselves lasting quite five minutes. It was the most dramatic and vivid five minutes I have spent in my life so far! Even when I was in the midst of the Blitz last fall I was not so thrilled, for all that seemed so garish and unreal, so very impersonal just as though I said to myself "All this cannot be happening to me". But this meeting was real! I felt the grip of his hand, heard his voice and saw him in person. He is a wonderful man, a living, walking example of the proverb: "a man is as old as he feels" for although he is an old man in years, his posture is one that a young man well might envy! His conversation kept my mind racing trying to keep up with him as he nimbly skipped from topic to topic. He is very tall - over six foot I think, with flowing snow-white hair and beard, bushy firece-looking eyebrows and surprisingly keen eyes peering out from behind them. Reminds you rather of a fierce old lion looking through his mane! I could not discover the color of his eyes but I think they are a bright blue. But the most surprising thing about him is his facial expression and the fact that his boastings (which are quite real by the way) do not upset you at all. You merely accept them as being the just right of a great man. His face is startling in its childlike simplicity and its extreme placidity. No picture of him that I have seen really does him justice for they all seem to make him out as a petty, boastful, arrogant old man and he certainly never struck me that way at all. His wit is of that scintillating variety that is as keen as a knife-blade and refreshing as dew and yet at the same time, is innocent of any maliciousness. His voice is pleasing and resonant with a wonderful Irish lilt that is truly charming. Altogether I think I was more impressed by him than by any other man I have ever met: and there are some very famous ones among them. I see one of them - Lord Willingdon, died just last week.

Well I guess that is all for now-------------------------------- cheerio!
\
Love to all,

Jim



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