Letters from London Pt. 1

November 12, 1961

Dear Dad and Russ,

I must confess that it was not until I received your most welcome letter of November 5th that I realized I have not written to you for over a month! Time certainly does fly, as you note, when you were getting settled into a new environment. However, rest assured that I am enjoying the best of health and that I have been receiving your mail and that I have heard from Dominion Life and have satisfied the income tax people here on that account.

Well, things have certainly been happening as far as my work at Wyndham’s is concerned. First of all, about a month ago, a new show called “Bonne Soupe” [starring Coral Browne] opened at the Comedy Theatre which is controlled by the same people as Wyndham’s. I worked all day Sunday helping set up the lights and, I must admit, I found it extremely interesting and not a little exhausting! And our show, “The Miracle Worker”, ended its nine-month run on October 28th and we worked all Saturday night getting those lights out and all day Sunday, Monday and Tuesday morning setting up the lights for the new show, George Bernard Shaw’s “Heartbreak House”. Again it was very interesting and lots of fun, actually, because the people I work with are terribly nice. And besides, what with all the overtime I earned over £26 for one week’s work! I like our new show very much but it is extremely long – nearly 3 hours. There is a rumor, however, that this show will be at Wyndham’s for a limited run only – that is, it may just run until Christmas or the new year and then another show will come in, perhaps a murder mystery! Beginning tomorrow, I shall be first dayman (electrics) at Wyndham’s which means that I shall just have to work from 9:15 until 1:00 in the mornings and then the show each night (7:45 – 10:45) which gives me every afternoon (except Wednesdays and Saturdays, when we have a matinee) free to enjoy and see all the many, many things this wonderful city has to offer. It will also give me more time to look for accommodation as so far I have had no luck. Good, centrally located flats are very difficult to find unless you are prepared to pay enormous rents for them. Sylvia and I are getting along just fine in the meantime but she only has this flat until January. Sylvia, incidentally, is suffering from a throat ulcer and must stay off her show for a week to give her voice a good rest – it’s quite a strain on her singing one of the leads in a show eight times a week!

On the Sunday I had off between “Bonne Soupe” and “Heartbreak House”, I visited Brighton on the south coast for the first time (only an hour by train from London). I had a lovely time and am now planning a similar day trip to Oxford next Sunday, all being well. It’s amazing how much of this country you can see in just one day! Well, Sylvia has dinner just about ready and I must go set the table. Please don’t worry about me and I’ll try to write more often in future whenever I can get a spare moment.

My regards to all, David

PS: Sylvia sends her love to you both!

David's shows at Wyndham's

David’s shows at Wyndham’s

December 5, 1961

Dear Dad and Russ,

Well, here it is another birthday already! And you’ll be glad to hear that your letter, cards and £5 money order we’re awaiting me in this morning’s post. Many, many thanks. This just happens to be my night off so I am meeting Sylvia after her show and we are going out to a very swanky club for dinner where, I expect, we shall have little difficulty in disposing of the £5! We’ll be thinking of you both tonight.

Since writing to you I have also received your letter of November 21st enclosing Bill’s cheque and that marvelous article on Angkor Wat which I enjoyed reading so very, very much – one of the best articles I have ever read on the subject. I was rather surprised to hear that Bill is due to leave for London next week. I knew he was coming, of course, but just naturally thought that he would drop us a line before taking off, letting us know his plans. Oh well, I guess that’s just Bill’s way of doing things. Nonetheless, both Sylvia and I are looking forward to his visit and hope that he plans to stay over the Christmas season.

You’ll be happy to hear that Sylvia is much better now but she has had a rather rough time of it as no sooner did her throat ulcer clear up than she developed a dandy case of laryngitis – neither of which is too pleasant for a person who depends on singing for a livelihood! However, she feels that she is singing better now than ever before so possibly the forced rest did her a lot of good.

“Heartbreak House” is doing very good business at Wyndham’s as well it should because it really is a magnificent play – Shaw himself said it was his best work. And a week ago Sunday we had a show called “Kathleen” at Wyndham’s – just for the day. This is evidently quite common in London theaters where a company will rent one of the big theaters for a Sunday to give a performance.

We’ve been getting a lot of cloudy and rainy weather lately but today has been beautiful with sunshine and clear blue sky. It is not so very cold over here, just damp!

If you are writing to Aunt Clara and Uncle Russell you might mention that I received their card and tell them that I shall be dropping them a line myself before Christmas. That’s all for now and thanks again for the birthday greetings.

David

January 9, 1962

Dear Dad and Russ,

Thanks for the very newsy Christmas letter, Dad – it brought memories to both of us of the Christmases we all spent at the “Y”. You’ll be glad to hear that we, too, entertained and fed some “homeless but not penniless” acquaintances of ours here in London on both Christmas and New Year’s days. The oven was not big enough so Lyon’s Corner House catered with a rather huge turkey, ready roasted, stuffed and garnished! While Christmas was green here, it was bitterly cold – one day, evidently, was the coldest in 90 years! On New Year’s Eve, it snowed all day long which suited us Canadians to a “T” but didn’t go down too well with the Londoners. The snow is all gone now and today was just “heavy sweater” weather.

Bill did not show up, but sent seven letters all at once – he sounds very depressed about his job and life in general, I’m afraid.

About snapshots – rather difficult because I only have 35 mm in my camera and Sylvia doesn’t own a camera but we’ll see what we can do. I’m sure you would change your mind about the beard if you could see it now. London barbers are all expert beard trimmers since about one out of every five men over here have beards now. It’s the style!

Sylvia’s show finishes on February 3rd and she is taking a well-deserved month’s holiday with people she knows in the south of France (Cannes). So far, nothing new has turned up for her so her future is a bit hazy at the moment.

“Heartbreak House” is still the show at Wyndham’s though there is a rumor to the effect that something else might replace it in about a month.

Except for a slight cold which everyone in London seems to have, I’m enjoying very good health. As is Sylvia, now that her throat trouble has cleared up.

Well, I guess that’s all for now.

Love from both of us, David

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