Baker, James

Letter
Date:
September 13, 1941
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Ward 4
No. 5 Can. Gen. Hosp.
Taplow, Bucks
Sept.13, 1941

Dear Mom,

Well I am a surprising boy aren't I...I never seem to do the things which I say I will: do I? I told you in my last letter that I was going down to Brixham Convalescent camp for three weeks. Well as you can see by my address at the top I didn't go. Instead I came down here to Taplow again, and am in Ward 4 again. Perhaps I had better start all over again in case you have missed some of my letters. On August 28th, I - together with about 70 other patients was evacuated by ambulance from Taplow to Birmingham. If you have a good map of England, you can follow my journey. We went through Reading, Oxford and a place called Waltham, I think. Then after staying in Birmingham nearly a week I was re-evacuated to Borden, passing through No. 1 Neurological Hospital at Basingstoke en route. I was supposed to stay there for three days and then go down to Brixham for three weeks convalescence. But my arm suddenly became worse, so they put me to bed in Borden for 4 days. But it didn't get much better so I was shipped back here to Ward 4 again. The nurses were very surprised; you should have seen their faces! They thought they had got rid of me for good but I - like the bad coin, always turn up again. I have been in here 2 months and six days...I wonder when I am going to get out. My arm is not particularly sore, it doesn't hamper me in any way. It is just that it won't stop discharging pus and of course, won't heal over. It has nearly filled up now but the pus still seems to work up from underneath. The bone is still tender too but not nearly so sore as it was. Since I came back they have been treating me with the new wonder drug: "sulphanilamide": putting it directly on the wound in powdered form. But it is so wearisome and boring staying here. There never seems to be anything to do. I write four or five letters a day, read a book a day, go for a long walk all around the estate - nearly five miles, and yet I never seem to find contentment. I'm always looking for something more. I have just finished reading Warwick Deeping's "Fantasia". It is an all too true picture of what I have run up against in England. You may remember the letter which I wrote you some time ago. I couldn't find words to describe my difficulties. Well, if you read that book you see what I mean. I am like John in that story: my ideals are having to fight constantly against unwholesome influences like those. And unlike him, I have no work which I can turn to and no woman whom I can love or talk to. When I do meet my friends it is all so hurried for I have always to think of getting back to camp. Nothing that you do has any permanence to it. You feel as though you were building on quicksands and your feet are continually sliding out from underneath you. But the conclusion that John comes to - that work with the land is the only work which is really worth while, is a conclusion that I have been slowly working over in my mind for a long time. Reading that book has only crystallized my own ideas. I have resolved that if I ever marry and have children of my own, they are going to be brought up in close contact with Nature and the soil. Then they will have some roots, something which will enable them to find true enjoyment, for I believe that anyone who loves Nature can be happy anywhere or at least can be happier than a person who regards Nature just as an animated background for his own silly antics. I know what a profound influence it has had on me and I am glad I have had the upbringing I have, even though it has not been very easy for you, for me, for any of us. At least it has been a happy one. That is something that I am only beginning to realize now that I have got away from home-life for awhile: how happy my childhood has been. I only hope that I am able to give my children one half as happy a childhood as I have had.

I have begun to make inquiries about magazines which will print poetry, for I think mine is worth printing. I have found out that the book which I should get is the "Writers and Artist's Year Book" by A&C Black. As soon as I get to London, I am going to start in earnest. Poetry is worth 25 cents a line to some magazines. Well, that's not to be sneezed at! This book that I am looking for gives the names of all the magazines in the world printed in English, what they publish, what they pay and how to go about getting your work accepted. I wish I could take one of these clerical courses given by the army... so I could learn typing and shorthand. I have been reading a lot about the lives of famous journalists lately and they all say that a knowledge of shorthand and typing is almost essential. So I am going to learn them both as soon as I can. I had started at Oxted as I told you but I had to stop it when I came in here.

I have had no mail for weeks now. It is still trying to find me I guess. I hope it comes in soon for I want news from home. Well, I guess that's all for now -

Love to all,

Jim


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