Wed., Jan. 17
I received your wire yesterday morning at 11:30 - quite quick. I read it with fatalistic calm, because I never expect you to stick to any plan that concerns, or would please me. The wire was not a surprise. When you left I felt sure you would not return, you came up for the week-end to spend it with your new "Babe", and are coming up next weekend to visit the Bursteins. It seemed unlikely that you would be able to get away for the middle of the week as well. I know how you think of me, by now! "Bubi" won't mind if I don't take her to the theatre as planned - she's such a Goy, such a little door-mat".
As a matter of fact, Bubi did mind, because she planned (and carried out) a party in your honor last night. The absence of the guest of honor made all my work seem wasted, it was the most marvelous dinner I've cooked since wartime. I'm really sorry you missed it, I spent two days getting everything ready.
You asked me to repeat that quotation from St. Augustan -sorry, darling, it was quoted in a letter from Toto, which I later tore up. I remember the sense, though, it began: "Why do we condemn war? Not because men must die, for death comes to all." War gives opportunities for the worst of humanity to torture each other with shadenfreude -(sadistic, pleasure in another's anguish). Greed, jealousy and ambition always lead to slaughter. Sometimes to the kind of slaughter that Al Capone's men did, or mass slaughter on a global scale, as now.
I remember I said, in spite of war's brutal acts, it did inspire wonderful poems and prose. I quoted from Henry the Fifth, the famous line, "Stand in your trench, Achilles, flame-capped, and shout for me!" and Rupert Brook's beautiful war poem. Inspiration comes from the finer men who combat the cruel fanatics. Courage and physical endurance are the most valuable qualities in any race, and we must give them high praise when we see them, for they help the race to endure and live on.
Every situation we enter into must be used in a constructive way, or it is wasted. I despised Dan because he found himself in a situation, which made him very unhappy, yet he was not man enough to deal with it constructively. He lost my respect because he did not know what he wanted, or how to get it. His marriage is a mess, too, for exactly the same reasons. I intend to use the Dan situation in a constructive way - in short, to get out of it a very worthwhile friendship with a very intelligent and congenial person, whose bright charm and sweet nature makes him ideal as a friend. I wouldn't marry him or any man of that vacillating nature.
You may comment on the above paragraph: "Why does she carry on with the situation of Bubi and Gerry, it cannot be solved in any constructive way? Shouldn't she drop it, and me, I only make her unhappy - and never do anything to change her life for the better, I never lift any of her burdens?"
That is a good question.
I will write again during the weekend, and will tell you about the party I gave for you, and who came, and what we had to eat and drink.
Jan. 19th. Friday
I am writing this on the train to Devon, - a long and very cold 6-hour journey! A courier from Jack's office gave me my reserved ticket with a small lunch basket containing - chicken sandwiches, thermos of coffee, 1/2 pint champagne, and some fruit! (There's no diner on trains now). It's as comfortable as travel can be in wartime. The courier produced all the morning papers, magazines. I had the usual nervous, sleepless night I always have before a journey - then up at the crack of what passes for dawn in England - and now I feel like death itself.
Today, I read something very pertinent to our situation a wise old cocky nurse is discussing a fascinating but erratic woman: "There are some natures," she said, "that's treacherous all through. They bite the 'and what feeds 'em. They do it once, and its forgiven and forgotten. But the time comes when it's done once too often, and you can't forgive nor forget. Never trust no one not even your own child, what's once done you a wicked wrong. One day they'll do you another, I'll be bound."
Because you did me so many wrongs, I feel apprehensive that I allowed you to draw me back into your orbit - close to you again. This fear of you, sometimes quite terrifying, seldom leaves me. Yet, I am glad I did return to you, because we have had some sweet times together. At any rate, those few days, hours, weeks (before you started drinking and whoring round again) were so much gained, retrieved. I am truly glad I took the great risks I took, during the brief period you were sane and sober. You are a vivid, enchanting person whose mind is my delight, and whose company is a perfect joy.
When I spoke to you about becoming an officer, it was because I know that for you to remain in your present status, will do great harm to your character. I don't want you to be an officer in order to help along the war! No, just to help yourself, as a non-com, you are an outrage to your true nature, and brainpower. Staying what you are is a bad mistake darling, from the psychological point of view. I don't want you to go back to flying status. Your bad eyes, nervous high-strung temperament makes flying unsuitable as your contribution to the war. I admire you tremendously for going on those trips over Germany - you have the satisfaction of having done a brave thing, when you were terribly scared. You always hated flying, and feel ill from altitude. Let that last terrifying experience put the period to that time.
Personally, it is a wonderful relief to know that 10 days absence, or silence, doesn't mean I might get one of those "We regret to inform you ---" letters. I hope I don't have to have that worry again added to the other worries, of you getting VD, or committing some awful crime while in a drunken brawl. (A man who is near to D.T.'s will commit any crime to get more drink; a case in point is the Drew case.)
Well, now to tell you about the party I gave for you on Tuesday. It consisted of Marjorie Vasper, Gordon and Lake, and Marshall Levin. I spent 2 days cooking and the dinner was marvelous. First lobster cooked with cheese, onions and cream - Then a wonderful pilaf of lamb, containing raisins, nuts, fried rice, olives, tomatoes, onions, dates, figs, etc! It was served in an enormous casserole; there was enough for 8 people. With it I had tiny green peas, red cabbage, an apple pie with lovely pastry - bottle of red wine, cocktails and Marshall contributed Canadian Club, and Schlitz beer.
I invited Dr. Magauley, whom you said you wanted to meet, and he accepted, but when I got your wire I rang him up and put him off to another time. I asked Bebe and Ben to come in for drinks after dinner, and just before dinner there was a knock at the door, there was Ben Lyon with his arms piled high with presents for me! He had come to say they would be unable to come because they had a late rehearsal and broadcast. To help out the party he brought over a huge tin of U.S. sausages, two tins of orange juice and fresh lemons, three enormous grapefruits and a bottle of Scotch whiskey.
We sat round the fire and talked, and had a very comfortable sort of evening. It was a wasted effort when you did not come.
My love and kisses -
This is added at home Monday night, Jan. 22 -
I didn't post this in Devon; nearest post office was 5 miles away. Had a lovely weekend, - lovely food and drink - beautiful house - breakfast in bed - party Sat. night - and 2 pairs of NYLONS when I left. (Black market price, L8 per pair!).
Nothing more to say, I haven't seen you for ages, or had a letter for weeks - Anyway I missed you just the way I usually do . . .
Tuesday, Jan. 23
Hi, you Mattress Mouse!
Remember, I said the Russian Winter offensive will start any minute now. Well, in just 2 weeks it did, and they are whizzing along at a speed that seems incredible, considering the weather conditions. Every time I glance at a paper over someone's shoulder in the bus, I get so excited I want to do a dance. I am thrilled at the way Germany is shrinking - Prussia and Silesia are cut off right this minute, I expect.
To tell you about my weekend at Jack's: the first night we had a perfect dinner with just the house guests. Pheasants, other delicacies, a Chablis with the first course, burgundy with the pheasant and old Cognac, it was too strong for me.
The second night about forty people came to the House Warming. We had a big buffet supper, some dancing, poker, other games and things. Most of them stayed until two o'clock, when we went into the kitchen and had bacon, eggs and coffee. It was about four o'clock when I got to bed. Next day I took a long walk through the snow, the trees waved their white plumes, the streams filmed with ice, the air was intoxicating.
Darling, you would have been amazed to see how much Bubi drank at the party! I started with 2 rum and brandy cocktails, then went on to gin-and-orange, started drinking cider-cup fortified with rum and brandy, had three large glasses of this when I got hot from dancing with the Army and the Navy on leave! At supper I had whiskey and milk, and then several glasses of champagne! I was quite astounded to find that it did not affect me in the very least.
There was no one I was interested in - none of the men were rich or attractive, so I did not do any mad flirting. I did meet a Glamour Girl that I took to. She is a ringer for T. The hair, colour, figure and glamourous clothes were the same.
Although I did not acquire any new beaus, I did see a lot of Jack. He would make an ideal lover or husband, but having known each other for 15 years, we simply could not fall in love! We are just too used to being friends; the moment when we could have fallen in love has simply passed. Then there's that little detail of his having a very charming wife and 5 daughters! We do have a very pleasant, sentimental friendship which crops up every now and then, so I shall encourage him to be around more. He is good-looking, clever, witty, and rich - what more could one desire in an occasional escort! (When I see you I will tell you something amusing which I can't put into a letter.)
His house is exactly two hundred miles from London - so it gave me a rather odd feeling to reflect that the Russians were exactly the same distance from Berlin. I've just looked at the evening paper, now they are only 160 miles from Berlin!
Did I tell you Jack gave me two pairs of very sheer Nylon stockings? T.S. says she advertises in the Times for them, offering ten pounds a pair, but she hardly ever gets any, even at that price! I could sell mine for twenty pounds, she says! I am going to give her one pair for her birthday next Summer.
January 17-23 1945