What Bill Said

The following is a transcription of a letter written by Bill Glenn, who seems to have studied the “seismographic” method of writing. Hard to read, yet somehow fitting for someone with a very theatrical take on life. 

David’s “Fabulous” Apartment

Dear Mr. Nixon & Russ,

Fantastic as it may seem, to me perhaps more than anyone else, here I am in Germany. When I talked to you on the phone before leaving, I wasn’t quite convinced that I was really bashing off to foreign shores – and now, obvious as it is that I have arrived, I’m still not convinced I’m here. If I sound mixed up, it’s only because I am!

New York was glorious. I was staying with friends in their Hollywood–New York apartment on 5th Avenue – very rootsie-tootsie. The man of the house, Oliver Rea (a producer) was in the midst of opening night worries of “King Lear” with Orson Welles – Oliver produced the show. So O. and Betty his wife and me toodled off to the theatre for an evening of nail biting. The show was a great success and afterwards at the Rea’s apartment I met Mary Martin and Marlene Dietrich (big thrill) at a cast celebration. Yes, New York was very exciting.

Our crossing on the Ivernia was Heaven-prepared – the sun shone – the Atlantic purred – it really couldn’t have been more perfect. Landing at Liverpool was ghastly – God what a fearful place.

RMS Ivernia

RMS Ivernia

Scotland – ah cold-cold Scotland – I believe I met 20,000,000 relations (Ma’s side). They were all wonderful to me – shot me off to Edinburgh, the Lochs, Inverness, Ireland (Cobh), Aberdeen, Glasgow – oh everywhere! I was worn to a swizzle stick. I saw any and all of the theatre in Scotland, which was very disappointing.

Disappointment came again with nightly visits to London theatres. I saw Pyjama Game, Pal Joey, Ibsen’s “Wild Duck“, Salad Days, Scofield in Hamlet as Hamlet, Separate Tables, a trip through Covent Garden, Sadlers Wells Ballet, with Fonteyn performing on her native soil, oh God – I saw a million shows and only one had an imagination/freshness/what have you – it was Salad Days with no famous people in the cast.

But it was the eye-opener of West End theatre. They (whoever “they” may be) tell me that London theatre is in a state of complacency! I believe them, with much regret! I loved London and the people and intend going back – but I am very sad about what I thought would be wonderful and was not – the theatre.

Crossing the North Sea, taking nine hours by train through the ice and snow of Holland and Germany brought me to Bonn Thursday morning at 3:30 – we were due in at 11:35 PM but were slightly delayed.

David’s apartment is nothing less than Hollywood-New York. It really is perfectly beautiful – he’s probably gone over the details of it with you so I can only add that if anyone had told me about it I wouldn’t have believed it! (By the way I wouldn’t mention it to the taxpayers!) It’s very very modern, warm & gives the feeling of “lap of luxury”. I love it!

A corner of David's FABULOUS apartment

A corner of David’s FABULOUS apartment

David wants me to stay on for a while – and I really find it difficult to refuse. I can’t get a passage home till July and if I work (and I must if I’m to survive) in England for more than three months I may be called up for National Service. So with this in mind and David’s invitation I may stay on until the end of the month.

I’m sorry, but this note seems to have developed so I’ll close off. All I can say is that you have no worries about your son – he has everything – including a peach of a car – the Canadian government certainly does take care of its own. I hope I’ll have some pictures of the flat when I get back to Canada – IF I get back to Canada. So until then,

sincerely, Bill

P.S. Perhaps you could ring up my mother and assure her that I’m still alive and kicking – thank you!


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