19 Boulter Street,
13. 2. 21.
My dearest Mother,
Very many thanks for your letter, the note, and the parcel. I was so pleased to see some clean hankies again. By the way, I did not have time to post you any dirty ones yesterday, so could you send me some from your reserve, as I have got just a slight cold? The newspaper cutting of Grant Bobs was awfully good, exactly like him!
I saw him on Tuesday at the Prince’s degree giving. It was quite by accident that I got there. Tickets were awfully scarce, and I was at school, so didn’t bother. However, at 10.30 that morning Miss Thornton, the Hall Secretary, comes into Milham Ford and offers me a graduate’s ticket. So after hasty interviews with the head mistress, the History mistress, and Miss Talbot, I extricate myself from Milham Ford, dash off to get into academic dress1, and tear up the High to borrow a hood from Adamsons. At length I find myself one of about six women among a swarm of graduates, including all the celebrities – e.g. Grant Bobs, Dr Carlyle, Urquhart, Llewelyn Woodward, etc – in the area of the Shel. Proceedings enlivened by running commentary from tall handsome B.A. doing education whom Doris and I call Leander, ‘cause he wears a pink tie – not addressed to me, but to a friend. Dr Harris and two trumpeters in organ loft cause great amusement by rehearsing their “starts”.
At 12.0. the Prince arrived3, with two Regius Profs. and the Heads of Houses. Poor boy, he was nervous. He was as pink as his gown, looked nowhere, shifted his feet, didn’t know whether to sit or stand, bit his nails, and fidgeted with his hat and notes. He didn’t cheer up until the first funny moment, which occurred when the Public Orator said to the Vice-Chancellor “Licet-ne Anglie loqui?” – V.C. “Si placet” (get Max to interpret – joke loses its point if translated) 2. Cheers from audience. The Prince’s own speech was excellent, he said all the right things, but he has a weird accent – almost a Cockney tinge to it. He was quite at his ease on his own feet.
On Thursday night Evelyn came up for her degree. On Friday night we three and Arthur and Gilbert went to see O.U.D.S. in “Anthony and Cleopatra”. It was really very good, only Cleopatra insisted on wearing white half the time, which rather spoilt her allure.
Yesterday Mr Ellis came up for the day to see the degree-giving. I took charge of him for part of the morning, while Evelyn was busy and we all had lunch with him at the George. In the afternoon, we all went to the ceremony. There were men as well as women. Gwen Jones took hers with Evelyn, and there was one woman who took Mus. Bac. – gorgeous white satin damask gown, with pink sleeves, just like Dr Allen’s, who presented her. There was one materfamilias among the M.A.’s, and it was sweet to see her boys and girls jumping round her after the ceremony4.
I enclose some snaps that Doris took of me while I had my hood on Tuesday. Please keep them safe for me. I am getting some more copies to send to Aunt Ethel and Edie.
Please give Daddie and Max my dearest love. I am glad there is a chance of our getting help for him. He could probably get a University one too. The more you take from the L.C.C. the more you get!
Your own daughter,
1Black and white, worn for all official university occasions including exams.
2V-C ‘May I speak in English?’; ‘Yes, you may’.
3Presumably Edward, Prince of Wales, who abdicated to marry the US divorcée, Wallace Simpson?
4A lovely picture of the women at last able to attend a degree ceremony, though they may have completed their studies some time ago.
Next letter to be posted on 22 February 2018.