My Dear Nellie:-
Xmas eve and some of us at least are still alive and sober. There were two alternatives - one was to go to midnight mass at Westminster with Mac or to come back here. I decided to do the latter and also write you a letter. Aren't you flattered, sacrificing my religious scruples in that manner. To fully describe London and my experiences so far is difficult for in the first place it is a very hard place to keep tab on and also our experiences are varied. The main difficulties are to keep the north star north, steer clear of the pretty fairies and to keep your money intact. My only regret is that I haven't sh.50 in my pocket. Then one could have a real live time.
We arrived here on Sunday at noon and eight of us are sleeping at this house. We eat mostly at a Catholic Women's League, a soldier's house, supported by Lord Neville, a fine old fellow. The meals are excellent and for 2 sh. You can eat to you heart's desire.
The city is filled with soldiers from all corners of the globe; Aust., N.Z., S.A., U.S.A., India and you often meet Servian, [sic] French & Belgian officers. The soldiers are certainly treated well here compared to Canada. Have not done much sight-seeing. Have been to the theatre and running around today. Have seen West. Abbey, Parliament Houses, the Guard mounted at Buckingham Palace, Downing St., Charing Cross, Trafalgar Square and other points of interest. Tomorrow we intend to form a party and visit the Tower of London and some other places in the morning. The Peel House is giving its guests a free Xmas dinner and that, combined with another dinner up town should suffice. In the afternoon we have seats for ?Chu Chin Chow', a musical comedy. Then a dance given for soldiers by some society lady will complete our Xmas in London.
The city is bewildering, the streets run in all directions and getting lost is quite simple. Yesterday Mac and I started out from Peel House to walk to Victoria Stn. We walked about fifteen minutes in what we thought was the required direction and then ended up stopping to look around, lo Behold, we were right back a half block from the Peel House. There are three ways of public travel, the tube, underground, the motor busses, which are big two-seated vans and the tram cars, which resemble street cars. The trams have two stories and offer from the upper story a good chance to view the city.
The streets are very narrow and lights are all dimmed & shades drawn after dusk. It makes it rather difficult to manipulate your way. The weather is mild. We have been going around all day without an overcoat. It seems so strange to have a Xmas without snow or a chance to go for a skate.
The theatres are fine. This afternoon we were at a Variety show at the Empire and altho' we could only get standing room it was worth the price & the discomfort. The orchestra was superb, over forty pieces and the stage scenery in particular was far superior to anything I have ever seen. There are few picture shows and those that do run are very expensive. The cheapest seats are 1s. 3d.
Haven't had an air-raid since we came altho' this is the season for them. They are most frequent when the moon is full. It seems remarkable how the enemy planes are able to find their way to the city for with the lights being dimmed as they are, it must be impossible to see the place from any distance. There are many soldiers here from the front. How nice a few days leave to Eng. must be. You see them come with all their trench outfit, helmet, rifle, their clothes soiled and their shoes covered with mud. Then you think of war.
Well, I hope you had a merry Xmas. Pardon the pencil but the pen was almost useless. Write me soon.
No. 1 Co.,
Can. Mach. Gun Depot,