19 November 1917

St. Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford.

19.11.17

                My dear Mother,

Thank you very much indeed for the parcel, and the letter and silver.  The cake and scones were a godsend, and the latter again helped us out on our Sunday walk.  I was also very thankful for the cake – it is a beauty, and will last out for several cocoas and tea-parties.  I was also very glad to see the pyjamas, as I was just beginning to think that silk might tend to feel cold after flannel.  It is very cold here in the mornings, but at night the rooms get rather hot and stuffy.  So one usually begins the day with two coats, and ends in a lace blouse.

That pot of anchovy you sent in the previous parcel is proving invaluable.  You have no idea what a difference it makes to the margarine at tea-time.  It is also very nice for filling up the gaps in the scones they give you for lunch walks.  These are usually rather dry, and just smeared with some weird concoction I think they call paste.

On Saturday Mr Allen came to inaugurate the new musical society with a lecture on modern music.  He took the idea of subject music – picture painting in music.  He kept on playing little bits of things in illustration, but would not play anything properly, which was very annoying.  However, he was most amusing.  We are singing at present for all we are worth for the concert on Sunday December 2nd – three practices a week!  Sometimes + the orchestra – which is quite amusing – I don’t know whether I mentioned that we were singing the first part of the Messiah – some of the choruses are awful – runs a mile long!

We had rather a killing time yesterday, when the Literary Society (commonly known as the lit. soc.) had its first poetry reading.  There were two poets, both young Oxford men – one very artistic in appearance, touselled head, untidy collar, misfitting clothes, and slouching gait.  The other was rather dapper, but with quite a nice face, and, for a young man, a quite well developed sense of humour.

Please thank Daddie for his letter and for the certificate and please tell him I will write to him later.  I have not been on the river yet but hope to go next week.  I was going on Wednesday, but went over Oxford Castle instead.  We climbed up a most awful stair-case, narrow, spiral, low, and pitch dark, up onto the top of a tower, from whence we got a fine view of Oxford and the surrounding hills.  We also saw the door by which Matilda made her escape from prison in the castle, with the aid of “three trusty knights”.

We are at present in quarantine, for Miss West, the theological student, has developed measles from going to work among children in some poor quarter of the town.  Quarantine merely means cutting social affairs, not lectures or coachings.  It’s Wids1 that suffers most;  everything else goes on as usual.

I am awfully sorry not to have written before, but this week has been simply appallingly full up, owing chiefly to the fact that I have made two new friends, second year people – Muriel Attee, hailing from Birmingham, very brainy and sporting, thus reminding me rather of Ethel – Kathleen Darnell, who comes from Blackheath and was at the High2 there.  These two insist upon our going to bed early – come to see if we have done so, in fact, which is not conducive to our getting to sleep early – I am generally recognised as being particularly sensible in that direction!!!  I shall probably come down with Kathleen, as Ella will be staying up for Smalls.

People are beginning to “pop” now, i.e. yield you their gracious permission to call them by their Christian names.  It is always done by the 2nd and 3rd year to the 1st year after half-term and is a gradually [sic] process often not completed until the end of the second term.  It’s awfully funny to see how they do it.  Muriel and Kathleen have popped to me already, also Edith Cowan, an awfully nice Scottish girl with whom I go to the Barnet House lectures.  She is a 3rd year so I feel considerably flattered.

I must stop now, as the youth brought me three fat volumes of Irish History some minutes ago, and I must screw the substance out of them before lunch time.  I can see the end of my pecuniary resources in sight, my washing bill having been steadily 2/6 for some time.  But I am not in immediate distress.  Best love to all,

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

P.S.  I began this letter on Monday, and have written a paragraph every day – today is Saturday.

1Wids = Women’s Intercollegiate Debating Society

2The High – Blackheath HS, one of the GPDST schools like Streatham Hill HS, the one Margot attended.

Next letter will be posted on 26 November 2014

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