26 November 1917

St. Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford.

26.11.17

                My dear Mother,

Very many thanks for your parcel and letter.  I was most awfully sorry to hear about Auntie Lizzie, and more shocked that I can say.  Poor dear little Peggy – everything will be on her shoulders now!  Have they made any plans yet?  I am sure you are being awfully sweet to the child.  I wish I were at home, so that you could be with them more.  How is Uncle Fred?  His health is not really so awfully good as to be able to stand a great shock without its telling on him very much.

Fancy the bells being rung in London for the victory.  I believe they were rung here, but then they are always on the go here, all day long, and a little more or less makes no difference1.

We are working most awfully hard at the Bach Choir.  The concert is next Sunday in the Sheldonian Theatre, and we are practising three times a week.  Last Sunday I did nothing but stand and sing all day.  It was a glorious morning, and Joan Fisher and I just swore at the Bach practice which prevented us from going for a lunch walk.  However we decided we would to up the Shotover if we perished in the attempt.  So we started at 9.45 a.m.  We walked up by the road, and cut across the heath by a field path, from which we got the most glorious view of Oxford.  It really is the prettiest sight, a little cluster of grey towers lying in a circle of wooded hills.  Then we went home by a field path and another road, arriving at the Hall at 11.10 a.m.  That means we did 6 miles in exactly 1 hr 25 min.  Not bad, was it?  Then immediately I went to Mansfield Chapel with Muriel and Edith – the Nonconformists here really are the pick of the bunch.  In the afternoon there was a Bach practice at New College Chapel.  In the evening we went to Evensong at New College, and when we came back there was Choir practice and Chapel.  So as I say, I did nothing but stand and sing all day.  How I managed to screw in two Latin Unseens, I don’t know.  Sunday is always the busiest day of the week.

Last night’s Bach practice was a strange experience.  We did nothing but practise the unaccompanied Motets.  Of course we went hopelessly flat, and Dr Allen was in despair.  So he just bullied us into singing in tune – beginning with a five-finger exercise – and by the end of the evening we came out actually sharp, which was a great cause of joy both to us and to him.

Many thanks for the hold-all.  It will be very useful, and I intend to bring home my eiderdown in it.  Will it be necessary to bring home both my big coats?  Shall I leave Auntie Nellie’s here?  We go down on Dec 10th.  I am going down with Kathleen Darnell, and we rather thought we would like to have lunch in town.  If this little scheme comes off, I could meet you either at Victoria or at Streatham Hill.  If you want to wash, of course, never mind – but I expect you will be waiting for my things.  It’s awful to think this term is nearly over!  If three years are going to fly like this, I shall be an old woman before I can turn round.

I must stop now, as I am just off to tennis, and must run and get some bread and butter first, or I shall get no tea when, as we don’t come in till 4.0. p.m.  My best love to all,

Your loving daughter, Margot.

1Bells rung for a victory was probably for Cambrai which was passed off as a great victory.  Oxford may have been more sceptical than London.

Next letter to be posted on 1 December 2014

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