Sunday, Aug 11/18
Dear Folks -
It is about half past three in the afternoon. We are still stranded on an entirely different part of the front from that which the Canadians are now occupying and still expecting a lorry. As the concert party is now on leave it may be the Captain’s intentions to leave us here until they come back. We have managed to get hold of an old piano which though pretty far gone, enables us to get through a good deal of practice. The worst of it is that we have no music except some rags and marches, but even this difficulty has been partially obviated as we have borrowed some stuff from an Imperial concert party. So we have been having a crack at the ‘Raymond’ overture, a ‘Trovatore’ selection, Edward German’s ‘Nell Gwyn’ country dances (I remember hearing the Toronto Symphony Orchestra play them) and a very attractive suite of pieces of very much the same character by a man named Eric Coates which I heard played in London by the London Symphony, conducted by the composer.
No letters or mail of any kind is reaching us here as it is all going to headquarters wherever that may be – miles away at any rate. So I expect we shall have to take a day off to read it all when it eventually comes. The time passes very quickly these days. As I think I told you we are doing all our own work. The way we manage is this. There are thirteen of us all together and two men do the cooking and house cleaning every day. For breakfast this morning we had porridge and milk, bacon, bread, tea and a few mushrooms which I found yesterday. This is our usual breakfast (except the toadstools). If you want to buy eggs or milk for yourself the only thing necessary is money which is rather scarce at present, there being no Canadian paymaster in the district. Then we had a very nice dinner, mashed potatoes, cabbage, and steak which could be masticated with out much difficulty (we usually have to stew our meat – so this was a desirable change) with lime juice to drink. For supper this evening I think there will probably be rice pudding and [?]hamme!
This afternoon I played for a service conducted by a chaplain from the banks of Loch Lomond - a young man with a bald head and a good Scotch burr. It was held in the front part of our hut. We are living in a large wooden building, formerly used by the Y. as a writing and recreation room. It is partitioned about the middle by a canvas screen. We use the rear half as our living room and the front part for practicing.
Good news these days. There will probably be a general election in England this fall and of course it is needless for me to tell you how I hope it will go. I think the common estimate of Lord Lansdowne held in America (as I gather it from extracts from the American papers) is too ridiculous for words. But our circumstances inopportune for the expression of political views. One thing, I still hope that President Wilson will put his foot down at the right minute and give the militarists and demagogues of the allied powers the shock of their lives.
I miss my mail from home very much indeed, so I can understand and how disappointed you are when the weekly letters don’t come. I hope you are getting them fairly regularly.
Ever so much love,