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Date: May 23rd 1917
Jack Beck

May 23, 1917

My dear Gertrude,

It was a good job that I wished you many happy returns of the day at the beginning of my last letter, for I finished it without rereading it & just as I put it into the letter box I realised I had forgotten about the even when I concluded it.

There is just a chance that this letter may also be in time, to supplement my good wishes. I see that the day will be Monday this year. - blue Monday from the office point of view & quite as much so in the army - at any rate in England where some relaxations can be had for the weekend. From the domestic point of view I don't suppose the hue is distinguishable.

Wash day, which like Easter, is a variable day, may perhaps take its place. However it be ordinarily hope there will be nothing blue about blue about the eleventh, but that it will find you very well indeed looking forward to some good holidays this summer, & also with good hope to other good times when peace is with us again.

I am without letter from you or home since a week ago & don't seem to have done much either - except for one heroic episode on Monday evening. I actually got up courage to enter photographers. It is nine years or so since I last had my photo taken & I think it will be longer before I go again. I hoped I could have had the result of this to send with this letter but they won't be ready till Monday - & I will be very surprised if they are any good at all. I was stuck on a high uncomfortable chair - my shoulders twisted one way & my head another & then quite a long exposure made. If it is very bad I won't make it public.

I have still to recount my Sunday doings. Church parade was at 9.30 which meant a march past the General afterwards. When the parade was drawn up in review order previous to marching by - the General present a Military Cross won by a fallen officer to the officer's father, accompanied evidently by two daughters, all in black, rather an ordeal for them.

I got out of barracks at two & took the tram to Westminster Bridge. Decided to walk along Victoria Street to the Roman Catholic Cathedral. Found it little changed although the marble work has been advanced a little in some of the side chapels. A confirmation or some similar service was going on. As is usual in R.C. Churches there was a rack of booklets for sale & happening to see one on "Wesleyanism" I bought it, & read it as I was having tea in the Soldiers Canteen under the Wesleyan Hall. Found the booklet very fair - written by a Jesuit, an ex-Wesleyan student & was surprised that there was very little propaganda argument in it. of course the authors comments were obviously biased in places - but he evidently retained a great reverence for Wesley - & looked on him as a real Catholic. Whether it is the average Roman Catholic point of view among those of them who can judge Methodism, I don't know & should a little doubt.

After tea I wrote to you, as the note paper would testify & left at half past six for the evening service at St. Margarets. I very nice service again. The first lesson was read by a layman, a very old man who toddled up from the back of the church, but he read splendidly in a full clear voice. A good lesson for reading the chapter where God is promising Joshua -"as I was with Moses so I will be with thee". Canon Carnegie the Rector preached this time, a very good practical wartime sermon. No an eloquent but a forceful speaker with a direct simple manner:

I trammed back afterwards & just got into barracks before a heavy rain storm and later in the night we had a terrific thunder storm j- our barrack buildings solidly built as they are shook again and again with the thunder.

Yesterday I finished reading "East Lynn". It is just lasted me five weeks but is quite a long tale. I don't see anything in it to justify its immense popularity but can imagine it making a very good melodrama, which it of course has done.

I have enjoyed it for the background of quiet country town life depicted - not for the plot which is quite impossible. The hero is rather an awful character, a perfect prig, if ever one was depicted. He marries a lady who leaves him in a fit of jealousy & she is later supposed to be killed in a railway accident in France. - However she is not but is much disfigured & counting on that & other disguises, she returns to her husband's house, in order to be with her children, as governess. He has meanwhile married again. There is a murder to build the plot upon with an equally impossible string of incidents in its wake. It is not nearly as clever a tale as "the Channings".

I see from our papers that a form of conscription is to be put in force in Canada. It seems to be quite time is was done if the Canadian forces in France are to be kept up to strength.

There were rumours about yesterdays that orders had come for several of the cadets to go away this week - but nothing as to which of us. I have some hope that I may be included - if not I might have to wait another month. - the last thing I want to do.

Berkley told me on Saturday that Edgar seemed to keep well & cheerful. He was in rest billets when Pop heard last. Father may be coming home soon, as six months is supposed to be the longest he can remain in France at one time. He went out late in November so should be due to leave about the end of this month.

Tomorrow is Victoria Day I notice. It is not a holiday here of course - today has been hot & sunny like an average June 24th - in Canada - like the one I remember when Aunty Kate was out. Very hot drilling on the gravel of the square even with our coats off - & our shirt sleeves rolled up. I am practically drilling all the time now, only had two days duty last week & so far none this week. The drilling is preferable in as much as it is al over by 3 oclock but I still find some of my joints rather stiff particularly my knees.

There are good swimming baths here but so far I have not dared to go in, am a little afraid of cramp after the fever. At any rate I think I will wait till later in the summer.

With best wishes for much happiness in Your coming year. & my best love.


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