29 February 1920

St Hilda’s Hall,

Oxon.

29.2.20

                My dear Mother,

Very many thanks for your letter, the note, and the parcel.  The shortbread was delicious, and much appreciated.  Quite half of it is already in the past tense.

I really do think Betty and the Major are the limit.  It was different during the war.  What on earth do they want to go to Algiers for now?  Really, people shouldn’t have children if they have no more sense of responsibility than that!  I really am fed up about it.

Daddie and I had a very nice time at the beginning of this week.  He arrived here on Monday at about 9.0 p.m.  We had lunch and dinner together on the Tuesday, which was rather a terrible day for me, as I had to squeeze a time paper somehow in between Daddie, and Toggers1, and shooting.

House I ended up Head of the River in great style, having never had its position threatened during the whole week.  They usually ended up a few lengths to the good.  Our chances in the Varsity race seem to be rather few.  I would love to see it.  I wonder whether Max will be free on the 27th?  I would like him to cycle over to Barnes Bridge with me.

We had quite a bright meeting of the Historical Society last Wednesday.  Carter of Queen’s read a most amusing paper on “Witchcraft” – he really succeeded in being funny, chiefly at the expense of James I.

On Tuesday evening we had a killing little artist here called Webb, who talked to us about the third dimension until our brains reeled.  We expected a rather dull art lecture, and came in for a very deep philosophical discussion.

My best love to Daddie and Max.  I am glad his arm is out of the sling, and hope it is not too troublesome while it is getting better.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1Toggers – oh dear! Oxford slang for Torpids.

S.H.H.

Oxon.

29.2.20

My dear Daddie,

Would you please send that stuff you promised me for our bazaar to –

The C.U. Secretary

Somerville College.

Please send it off early, so that it arrives before Saturday.  I will write to her about it.

I went and sat on the top of the dining room stairs on Tuesday after you had left, and heard the end of the debate, which seemed to be quite a good one.  Anyway the Twenty Club looked very nice all in evening dress – a very rare sight now in Oxford.

I am very fed up about the Faulkners.  I wish they would look after their own children.  It is really much too great a burden for Mother.  Couldn’t we have a maid now, Daddie, instead of when I come down?  Mother really ought not to have all those children in the house without help.  Couldn’t it be done if I didn’t go to Lyme Regis?

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

The next 2 letters will be posted on 7 March 1920

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22 February 1920

St Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford.

22.2.20

                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter and parcel, and the note.  The cake is delicious.  I grieve to say we have made it look very silly during the last three days!  I will get the spoon with the note.  I presume the increase was meant for that.  I did write to Ethel last Sunday – I hope she has got my letter.

We have just polished off the “Requiem” at the Back Choir Concert today.  We had a complete orchestra, with only six outsiders to make up.  We ended up with our Swanwick hymn – Vaughan Williams’ setting of “For all the saints” 1, in which the audience took part.

Monday

I am so sorry not to have got this off yesterday, but just where I broke off the Chapel gong went, and after that I had absolutely no peace right up to bed-time.  Now I am in Joyce’s Study Circle, and have to take a prominent part in all the proceedings.  I sent off the parcel today.  It simply would not get posted last week.  I am just now waiting for Daddie, – having sent word to him that I shall be in, and be pleased to give him cocoa.

Torpids2 began on Thursday.  So far House has been triumphant all along the line.  Magdalen is nowhere.  Magd. I has never come anywhere near House I, which is Head of the River, and which yesterday gained three lengths on its own place.  House II has today bumped Magd. II, much to everyone’s delight.  It has done a bump every day except the first.  House III is notorious for its bumps.  It doesn’t mind what it bumps.  If it can’t find a boat it bumps a tree, or the bank or any old thing!  On Saturday it held up the river by not removing itself after doing its bump, and there was a nasty mush of four eights in the Gut.  They counted 2 bumps too, which was rather hard on the one behind Ch. Ch. II.  We know someone in House III – at least Evelyn does – so we follow its fortunes with interest.

We had an eight of our own last Wednesday, but it was a wash-out, as one of our people fell out, at the last moment, and we had to put in an O.S.  She practically insisted on stroking but was quite unequal to the job, and collapsed every ten minutes!  Evidently, she was quite out of training.

We had a very nice little dance on Tuesday – quite among ourselves.  I asked Doris, and much enjoyed dancing with her.  Little Marsden was quite right, she would make a stick dance!

I am glad Max’s arm is now unbandaged.  Please give him my love.  I must not write any more now, or shall miss the post.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1 ‘For all the saints’ – presumably the tune by Vaughan Williams called ‘Sine Nomine’.  Amazing that they had breath for that after the Brahms Requiem:  it’s a huge sing and the choir is on its feet for hours.

2Torpids are bumping rowing races in Hilary Term.

The next 2 letters will be posted on 28 February 2017.

16 February 1920

St Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford.

16.2.20

                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter, the note, and the parcel.  The shortbread was greeted with loud grunts of approval!  I have packed a large parcel to send home tomorrow.  I shall want back one pair of pyjamas, and all the combs, blouses and stockings in due course.

I am sorry to hear about Max’s shoulder.  However, I can’t say I was surprised!  It seems to be the usual thing to do in Rugger.  Daddie and Billy Stanton did just the same.  I’m glad it wasn’t a bad fracture.  It’s really a shame the way Max’s footer has been messed up for him this year.  Please give the boy my love and thank him for his letter, which arrived this morning.

Isn’t it good about Ethel’s baby?  They both wanted a boy.  Edgar wrote to me almost immediately.  Edgar Maurice was born on Saturday and I heard on Monday – born on Edgar’s birthday!  Edgar was very noble in writing this news, for Gwen heard about the same time.  By the way, what does one give boy babies?  I hope they are going to call him Maurice.

I am sorry the dress was such a blow!  It is very pretty and arrived just at the right time, for the S.C.M. dance is on Tuesday.  By the way have you a vest such as Doris lent me before?  It is quite diaphanous above the waiste, though with sleeves!  If you have anything suitable, it must be low and with very thin should straps – please send it along!  Otherwise I will have to resort to Doris again!

Joyce and I went shooting last Tuesday – on a 25 yds miniature range.  It was great fun.  We each scored a bull’s eye.  Mine was a better one than Joyce’s, but her total score was higher than mine.  It is a great game – something else for us to rival each other in!  A charming sergeant in the Oxon and Bucks instructs us, and seemed to take great pleasure in lying flat on his tummy and peering into Nora Inship’s face!

On Wednesday we had a glorious byke ride to Wood Eaton in search of primroses.  We found six!

On Thursday night we went to see O.U.D.S. in “the Dynasts” with Doris Coleman as chaperone.  It was an awfully good show, especially the uniforms.  The President, Colbourne of Oriel, played Nelson – superbly!  Wellington and Napoleon were also good.  We were in the back row of the circle, and so had the benefits of hearing the conversation of various members of the caste who crept in to watch in between their calls.  We heard some priceless tit-bits!  Hardy1 himself was there on the first night, but incognito!

The next day Gilbert came to tea and told us all about the caste and behind the scenes.

Please give my love to Daddie and Max,

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1Thomas Hardy wrote his epic drama between 1903 and 1908.

The next letter will be posted on 22 February 2017.

8 February 1920

St Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford.

8.2.20

                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your parcel on Friday, and also for the stockings this morning.  I am glad that Uncle and Auntie are with you this week-end, but I hope you are not having too much to do about it.  I hope you had a good evening with Betty and the Major.

I think that we are gong to like Brahms’ “Requiem” as much as we liked the Sea Symphony.  There is one perfectly great movement, a setting of “all flesh is as grass” motif.  We always practise with the orchestra, which is getting larger, and now boasts a real wind section, which is a standing source of amusement to the choir, as it sometimes goes in for weird effects.  We are going to perform the Requiem in the Shel. on Sunday, Feb. 22nd so if Daddie could arrange to come up that week-end, I could get him a ticket.

On Tuesday I played tennis so vigorously that I have had an ache in the muscles of my right arm ever since.

On Wednesday I went to supper with Gwen. Dolly was out to dinner, Llewellyn is always either at Keble or All Souls, and the maid had gone to see “Milestones” 1, so we had the house to ourselves.  Llewellyn and Dolly have a beautiful little old house in Holywell, with a frightfully narrow spiral staircase, with every stair triangular, running up the middle of the house.  They have got some very nice furniture.

We had rather a rag on Friday night.  Joyce and I were having baths in the double bath-room, and throwing soap and sponges through the partition –  N.B. a cold sponge is the only way of getting Joyce out of a hot bath – when Evelyn came and told us that Doris had come to see me.  A little later she came back to say that Doris had gone.  When we finally arrived in Joyce’s room after a few moments’ conversation, Doris sprang out on us from the cupboard – just as Evelyn was dreading what Joyce was going to say next!  She stayed and had cocoa with us.

Tonight we have been to Queen’s College chapel with tickets which Doris got for us.  The choir sang “for the Fallen”.  There was a small, but full orchestra, a little choir, in which Doris sings amongst altos.

If this letter is incoherent, please excuse, as Joyce and Evelyn are chattering 19 to the dozen.  Best love to Daddie and Max,

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1 ‘Milestones’ – probably the play  by Arnold Bennett and Edward Knoblauch.

The next letter will be posted on 16 February 2017.

1 February 1920

St Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford.

1.2.20

                My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter and parcel, and for your letter this morning.  I am glad Peggy has got another job – is it on the same lines as the first?  Has she no other ideas?  Please thank her very much for taking so much trouble over my dress, or if you let me have her address, I will write and thank her myself.

I am very sorry you had so much trouble over Aunt Ethel.  I hope she wont have a relapse after the excitement of Uncle Cyril’s coming.

We have had quite a full week.  A perfectly delightful American theological professor from Yale is expounding at Manchester College, with weekly public lectures, to which we are going.

My W.E.A. Study Circle was a great success last week.  Four men turned up beside Mr Jones, all very keen and intelligent, so we had quite an interesting discussion.  Miss Butler is going to open our next meeting.  She is a Home Students1 don and member of the Oxford City Education Committee, so I hope it will be a good discussion.  I feel rather nervous about it, as Mr Jones cannot come, so I shall have to take command of the situation.  Cicely Thompson is now a member of the circle.

On Thursday we got tickets for the Union, Evelyn, Joyce, and I. The motion was “that Ireland has herself frustrated the efforts of the government to deal with the Irish problem”.  The first speaker was rather boyish.  The second was a perfectly fascinating little Irishman, with an adorable accent and manner of speaking, a hot Sinn Feiner.  He claimed the status of belligerents for Irishmen, protested against being treated as a criminal, and declared that England had made war on Ireland from the beginning.  His speech was mostly made up of witty paradoxes and epigrams, with little connected argument, but was delightful hearing.  He said Sinn Fein was a platitude – merely meaning patriotism!  The third speaker was an Ulsterman, but spoke very well, and caused a sensation by claiming that Ulster had a continuous and aggressive nationality for 2,500 years!

On Friday the First Year gave a play – based on a parody of L.T. Meade.  Quite effective, and very funny, though not as good as their Freshers’ play last term.

We Schools’ people are going to have a punt of our own next term.  We find we can hire one for about 6/- each – there are 16 of us – through the Co-op.

Please give my love to Daddie and Max.  I had tea with Doris this afternoon.

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

1The Home Students became eventually St Anne’s College.

The next letter will be posted on 8 February 2017.