Z received a letter – in 1969

What I said yesterday has come back to bite me, so I must accept my own conclusion and not draw judgements.  Russell has hardly eaten today, he hasn’t been hungry at all.  I cooked a particularly nice soufflé tonight, but he couldn’t manage much.

However, Al and Dilly and the children dropped in after lunch and stayed most of the afternoon, and that was lovely.  So we take what good we can from the day.  They took a dozen eggs with them and I used several more in the soufflé, so that’s under control, especially as we only had half a dozen eggs today.  I’ll take what I have to Weeza tomorrow, then we will start the next week afresh.

Much of my home life is quite dull, to be honest.  I feed the dog, feed the chickens, feed the tortoises, I do some housework and the simplest of cooking.  I enjoyed making the soufflé, at least it involved a number of ingredients and actions, rather more fun than making scrambled eggs or grilling a steak.  Which reminds me – between us, we’re eating about as much as one normal person packs away in a day, yet the dishwasher has just gone on for the second time today and it normally is filled once daily, as it was when five of us lived here.  I’m not sure I understand that.  There were a number of extra mugs and glasses, but that wasn’t enough to account for it.

I remember when I was fifteen and about to take my O Levels.  Wink had her 21st birthday, and a party, but instead of a present she asked for a holiday in Scotland over the Easter holidays.  I had my exams coming up, but that wasn’t all – we had seven dogs at the time and I knew that this posed a potential problem that I could solve.  So I said that I couldn’t possibly go, I had to revise and I would stay home.  I didn’t drop any hint of martyrdom, which would immediately have made my mother insist on my going with them and I didn’t really feel it – yes, I’d have liked a holiday but solving a problem was my priority.

So that was what happened.  Slightly to my dismay, my mother arranged for a neighbour to come in and sleep in the house with me (it was fine, she turned up sometime after dinner, we had coffee and a chat and then she went to bed) and I enjoyed my independence for a week.  On the first day away, my parents realised that, though they’d left me food in the fridge, I had no money at all.  So I received the only letter I ever had from my father.  I don’t have it to hand – it’s somewhere about, I’m not sure where, but I know what it said.

“Dear Zoë,

Herewith cheque for £5 which you can ask Jean Barnitt to cash for you.


Malcolm E. Humphery”

I didn’t happen to see Jean that week so I didn’t cash the cheque – which was ample, by the way. Probably equivalent to at least £100 now – but I just gave it back, I didn’t need it so didn’t use it.

The reason I’m reminded of that week was the washing up,  We did have a dishwasher, but there really wasn’t any point in putting it on, just for myself.  I minimised the washing up, however, and so I chose my hot drinks carefully.  I had tea for breakfast, coffee mid-morning and hot chocolate in the evening.  Thus, I could use the same mug and only had to wash it once.  I was efficient, even in those days – and lazy, obviously.

7 comments on “Z received a letter – in 1969

  1. Scarlet

    That is an extraordinary sign off from your Father! Good heavens!
    Meanwhile, although Russell hasn’t an appetite make sure he is getting enough fluids… even if it’s just water.

  2. Roses

    I have to say in weather like this, there really isn’t much incentive to eat, which might be contributing to Russell’s appetite malaise.

    I hope the cooler weather comes soon and he picks up.


  3. sablonneuse

    You say your home life is pretty humdrum yet you manage to write interesting posts every day. That’s quite an achievement!
    Sorry to hear that R is off food again but I hope you are eating enough to keep your strength up.

  4. IndigoRoth

    Hey Z! Sad to hear about Russell, I hope he’s back up to three shredded wheat by now. And yes, what an extraordinary letter! Times have changed. Indigo x

  5. Z Post author

    Russell does eat, just not much. The heat can’t help – but Eloise did a splendid pud and he tucked in, so kept up his calorie count, especially as he had bacon and eggs for supper. Yes, I’m making sure he drinks plenty – tea, Ribena and milk are his tipples at present, though he had cider too today, to be sociable.

    My father was lovely and I still miss him. But he never wrote personal letters! My mother never had one, but then they were never apart.

  6. PixieMum

    Ian is a great believer in what he calls Intelligent Laziness. It is efficient and probably has led to a faster way of undertaking tasks and chores.

  7. Z Post author

    I am efficient, cut corners when it doesn’t matter and am good at evaluating priorities to minimise the work I have to do. I think Ian and I think the same way.


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