Friday, 19 November, ’15.
No. 2 General Hospital,
. . . I was only thinking, last night, I’m having one of the times of my life: lots of the best grub, all kinds of good shows to see, nothing to do, and a couple of Sisters running around fixing you up all the time, a comfy bed, and lovely clean things every other day — and all the time feeling absolutely fine. I forgot to mention that a masseuse gives me electric air baths every other day, which are just too great for anything —and this is War. Gee!
The lady I mentioned in the previous letter, who I got the chocolates from, was a multi-millionaire. She brings a big six Rolls-Royce limousine with her and puts all the boys in she can get, and sends her chauffeur along to drive ’em all over London, while she stays in the ward and sews buttons on the boys’ shirts for ’em. She is getting up a sort of bazaar. Every man in this place has to make something. Prizes will be given, and the things sold as souvenirs, the money to go to the Red Cross. It’s great fun. We all have something. Some of the boys here are knitting scarfs, string bags, dressing dolls. You’d die to see some of the results. I have a kettle holder to make. It’s a kind of a square piece of canvas with holes in it. In the middle is a cat, and I have to fill all the little holes in it with wool. It’s awful hard work, and I guess I’m making a rotten mess of it. But, as I said, it’s a lot of fun. . . .
I forgot whether I told you that this hospital has the record for London of turning out ninety percent of its casualties cured. They are very jealous of their reputation, and it’s harder to get out than it is in. They don’t want to take any chances.
We were to have had that boat-load of wounded from the Anglia, but you know what happened most of them — so last night we got a train from the Dardanelles. . . .
About noon, Sister asked me if I’d like to go out in the afternoon. You bet I did. A lady came with a six Rolls-Royce limousine and took all the car would hold to Kingsway Hall to a concert. After the concert she took us to tea.
Gee, but the Londoners have changed; this war sure has given them a jolt. Just imagine a year or two ago what would happen if a bunch of fellows strolled into the stalls of a show in dressing gowns — in dear, staid old London! And yet I’ve seen that happen, and seen fellows carried in at full length, and every one anxious to help. Once, to applaud a turn was vulgar. Today all the cat calls, whistles, and roars to come back are quite in order, and only just draw pleasant, indulgent smiles from the one-time stiff people of a few years ago. The common or garden Tommy owns London today, and the people are finding out what Kipling told them a few years ago: that he is just an ordinary man “most remarkable like you.” You must realize that before the war a Tommy in uniform was not even allowed in a better part of the theatre or in the best bars of the West End hotels.
It struck me yesterday that England may perhaps be different, after all, when the war is over. There were several ladies yesterday with parties of fellows, and one thing I could not help noticing — that all that patronising way that the “upper” classes always affected when giving charity, was all gone. They honestly got down to brass tacks, and meant everything, and enjoyed doing it. If only that get-together feeling would last, England would be the finest country in the world. At tea, which we had in one of the side rooms in the hall, we were waited on by the ladies who took us and by the people who sang and played. One party was being waited on by Lord Kitchener’s sister.
And now I must quit and get on with my cat, which my Canuck lady says is very good and should have a prize. Ahem!!!!