Baker, James

Letter
Date:
November 29, 1941
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
November 29th, 1941

Dear Mom,

I hope by this time you have received my telegram telling you that I was out of hospital and on leave in London. Also I expect you heard my broadcast yesterday afternoon from the Beaver Club. I was so excited I could hardly speak! What did it sound like? Gerry Wilmot - the Canadian announcer who is in charge of the broadcasts, comes from Vancouver you know. I only found out yesterday while I was standing in the queue waiting to speak. He came around to look at our messages and when he saw I was from White Rock he said: "Boy, do I wish I was back there again". It sure made me feel right at home to find someone that knows and appreciates my hometown...chased the jitters right away and made me feel comfortable all over again!

Well, I've had a great time so far. I guess I'd better give you a running commentary and then you'll know how everything stands. I don't think I have written since I was discharged from hospital exactly a week ago today. It came rather suddenly and caught me unprepared but I did the best I could under the circumstances. As soon as I got down to the Holding Unit, I applied for my leave and was told I could have it right away or wait until 14th Dec. and take it over Christmas. Well, I was in a dilemma but finally decided to take it right away while I could get it. I was darn glad I did too because I never would have got it if I had waited as a draught left for the regiment the same day I went on leave. Every leave in the camp was cancelled except mine so again, I think I must be favoured of the Gods. I got away on Thurs. about 4 PM. which meant I had had nearly a day in London when my leave started at reveille on Friday. I immediately rang up Mrs. Sayers and was absolutely overwhelmed with hospitality. I stayed the night - as a matter of fact, she has made me promise to stay there all the time I am in London, and I can't thank her enough for - of course, it saves me quite a bit of money. And I have my ration card so I can buy my own rations. Not that I eat a great deal anyway, but every little bit counts. Then yesterday morning I came down here to the Maple Leaf to see Faith and Jane and all my other friends, then at 12.45 to the Dorchester to meet Mrs. Sayers for luncheon. There I met a Mr. Williams and Mr. Beatty - two Americans who are starting a club for the Civilian Technical Corps. - the American technicians who are so ably helping the RAF. We had luncheon at the ‘English Speaking Union' which is a very exclusive club for - to quote Mrs. Sayers "A class of English society which is dying out: and about time too". You know ‘the old school tie' kind. I suppose you want to know what we had for luncheon. Well first: thick cream of vegetable soup, next - choice of five: Welsh rarebit, prime roast rib of beef, braised cod fillets, cottage pie and something mutton, then choice of four vegs. - celery (cooked), sprouts, boiled or mashed potatoes, for dessert: tapioca or black currant turnover. Drinks - beer, tea, coffee or cider. We had cider and it cost us 9s 6d (about $2.35) for two. Then I rushed back to Mrs. Sayers' office at the American Outpost where I met some more interesting people: among them Mrs. Davies - a Virginian working on the Editorial Staff and Mrs. Beverly - the mother of the girl whom I was corresponding with all the time I was in hospital. She was charming. Then at 3.30 down to the Beaver Club for tea and the broadcast home to Canada, then at 6.30 to the Universal Universities Club to meet Mrs. Beverly with Mary. Mary is a very nice, interesting girl - not beautiful but marvelously attractive. Her uncle - Fred Walsh was also there. He is over here from America for four months on business. We spent about 2 hrs. getting acquainted and having a wonderful supper - complete from soup to nuts, including hors d'ouvres, soup, entrees, partridge and two vegs, trifle and black coffee. Then, we all bundled into a taxi and were off to the Player's Club where we spent the rest of the evening. It is a very peculiar place where everyone knows everyone else. There are tables and a cabaret goes on all the time people are eating and drinking. But it isn't exactly a cabaret because the audience knows the whole thing off by heart and joins in, sings the songs and announces the numbers right along with the artists. It's very peculiar, reminds me of certain of the orators in Hyde Park whose speeches never change from one year's end to the next. Consequently, the audience knows them off by heart and chants them in unison with the orator. Gosh it's funny to hear them! Well, to get back to the Players Club, some of the turns were very good and I enjoyed everything immensely. It was ‘1890 Night' last night and everything was old, the costumes, the songs, the dialogue, monologues and dances. "She's Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage" - "My old man said follows the van and don't dilly dally on the way". I expect you remember that one Dad. It was such fun the way she sang it. The verse goes on from the line I have quoted "Away went the van with me ‘ome packed in it and I followed on with me old cock linnet. But I dillied and dallied, dallied and dillied, ‘Til I can't find me way ‘ome". Of course, dillying and dallying means she stopped off at every pub along the way. So when she came on the stage she was very tipsy. She had a huge bottle of gin under one arm, a huge bird cage with the cock linnet under the other, a very bad case of hiccups, her hair straggled all over her face and a marvelous Cockney accent. We simply roared it was so funny...altogether a marvelous evening! I got home about 11.30 and straight to bed. And so one day of my leave is gone.

Well, I guess that's all. Write again soon.

Love to all,

Jim



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