[Editor’s note: In dating the letter Stubbs wrote “4/4/45” but this was most likely an error as both content and postmark place it in May. Transcription provided by collection donor.]
For some days now I have been staying at another base. This is the place where you can get the silver work I mentioned.
The climate here is rather different—as hot or perhaps hotter but far less humid and thus more invigorating. It cools off at night more and I usually find I wake about six and have to crawl into bed to keep warm instead of sleeping on top. There are lots of trees just here but from the air you can see it is not heavily wooded and there is none of the dense undergrowth we have. Actually we are on the fringe of the desert regions and there is a lot of sand—I’ve seen no soil or rocks here. The town is somewhat smaller but possibly a little more civilized than my base station. Those streets which are not hard surfaced are just sand, usually with a concrete ditch down the middle to carry off the rains that come about July.
The natives speak a little plainer English here and are perhaps a bit higher a type. They dress with rather more modesty than some of ours anyway. Also there is quite a smattering of natives with typically Arabian characteristics—they are tall and proud looking. Even their women folk are often six feet tall I should say.
In the centre of the town there is a large square where grass has been enticed to grow and the forces play football here in the evenings and they with the help (?) of the native police band playing at the same time draw quite an audience.
The first afternoon we went to a silver-smith and after some haggling bought bracelets at 17/6 per. This was just a small shop and not the one we were looking for. The next day we found this other place called “Silver Jacks”. Silver jack took us three into his showroom where we planted ourselves into comfortable arm chairs around a show case and smoked cigarettes while the silver work was produced. All the work is a filigree design made of lots of tiny scrolls soldered together. It is very beautiful but not flawless which gives them added charm because you can see they are not factory made. I bought a butterfly brooch here. There were a few gold bracelets also, part of the design being done with pure gold but these were expensive £8-10. They were lovely though.
Afterwards we went into the room where the stuff was made. There were about a dozen ‘boys’ here squatting on their haunches doing the work on a piece of slate on the ground. It was amazing to see the beautiful clean silver work in this dim and very dirty hovel. The only tools seemed to be a pair of pliers, a hammer, a melting pot over a tiny forge, a tube held in the mouth through which air is blown against a flame for a blowtorch and a bowl of sand and water for polishing. Most of the ‘boys’ had their own set of tools but the man with the hammer specialized in beating out the silver and one man did the work on the forge.
So much for the silver smiths.
With love from