England 40 Years Ago — September 27, 1981

Last week in the continuing series on Winston Churchill we saw a scene where a man is sitting on the red carpeted stairs inside Polesden Lacey. The show is on very late and is so filled with political talk that if it weren’t for trying to spot the places in the background, I might fall asleep.

Polesden Lacey

I think I wrote a year ago about being so happy to find the absence of white baby shoes which I loathe. Boys wear T-bar buckled shoes which I think only girls would wear in the US. I’m so used to seeing them now that they don’t appear girlish. I was thinking how marvelous it’s been to avoid the tussle of keeping toddler’s shoes tied when I felt a tug at my foot. John $ had untied MY shoe! I can see the race will be on – I’ll be dancing jigs to keep my feet moving while he will be making attacks at every pause.

Kate was a bit slow getting ready for school. I said, “You don’t have time to play in the mornings.” She replied, “I don’t have time to play in the afternoons, either.” Poor thing, she’s right. We should have a big bell and a fireman’s pole to speed things up in the morning. Kate often takes a bath with John $, dresses, eats breakfast, gets together her school things, and practices her violin in less than an hour.

$ loves to take things from my gadget drawer in the kitchen. Lately his favorite has been a red measuring spoon which he smokes like a pipe. It’s so realistic to him that I expect smoke to come out one of these days.

Kate has been having a real struggle with preps (homework). The crunch comes late in the afternoon when she’s tired, John $ wants to play, and I’m preparing dinner. We tried a new system that is working for the moment. I allow her a certain amount of time for each segment of work, and she tries to finish before I ring a bell. That seems to help her concentrate. Lisa does all her work shut up in her room, so she is no distraction to Kate. But John Spencer! He is total distraction from tossing head to wiggling toe! I wish Kate had enough determination to work in her room alone, but she just can’t seem to do it.

Lisa continues to love Dunotter despite the hard work. Schools in England give double preps over the weekend (they’d say “at” the weekend). I think Lisa worked about six hours this weekend to get through. I’ll be glad to get back to the American system!

Because of all the trading John is doing at home, a new telephone line was ordered. A quite likable young chap came early Friday to do the work. One can see why the British telephones are no match for American ones. Any time we had work in the US, one man would appear, size up the work in minutes, and have the job finished in an hour or so. This fellow wandered around for an hour deciding how he was going to put in the line. He went about his tasks leisurely, said he couldn’t get the line over the trees without help, called twice for another man, waited around doing the part he could do by himself, and finally left when I went to get the girls from school. He said it was no use starting another job because he had only an hour and a half until quitting time. The thing that was holding him up was that he was afraid of throwing the line with a heavy object attached because he might hit someone on the footpath. My offer to act as sentry was kindly refused. He is supposed to come first thing Monday morning. Time will tell!

John has been feeling somewhat better this past week until yesterday when the pains in his arm came back in full force. Thank you all for your kind wishes for him. Think you’d better forget the wishes now and PRAY for him! He said he felt miserable wherever he was, so why not go somewhere interesting? Today we went to church in Westminster Abbey where the boys were back from their summer holidays and sounding as divine as ever. There was a rather sophisticated sermon on a simple text with not much point to it, but still, it was better than some we’ve heard there.

We were thinking of several outdoor things to do, but came out of Burger King to find rain pelting down. We headed for the London Museum of transport, driving around in ever widening circles trying to find a parking place. We found ONE in half an hour, and that one was blocked by a big German bus. The city was really still full of tourists. We gave up when we found the only place to park was a garage that charged a minimum of 4 pounds 20.

We headed for Kensington Palace not far away where Princess Margaret and soon the Prince and Princess of Wales will live. Queen Victoria was born there, also. We weren’t sure if we saw the actual building or not because of the huge park surrounding several buildings. Traffic and small commercial buildings came between. At least we know what the area looks like and what these royal persons see as they come and go.

I had often wondered if royalty ever got behind the wheel of a car, because I only see them being driven in big cars or state coaches. The Prince of Wales was pictured driving Lady Di back to Windsor after the races at Ascot, so I figured he drove. Just last night, I sat to read one of the papers the Brownworths had left, and it mentioned that both Prince Andrew and Prince Edward drove themselves to the final wedding rehearsal, even mentioning the type of car each owned. Prince Andrew, the elder of the two, almost collided with a cyclist the paper said. Prince Edward is a very careful driver, having just recently passed his driving test.

John $ fell asleep in the car on the way home. Usually he wakes up when we get home, but today he was out cold. We slipped out of the car, opened a window, and left the front door open with the car just outside so we could hear him when he woke. Wonder what he thought when he woke up?

John says the NY office will be closed to our mail traffic and that you are now to write to an address in Miami. The plan now seems to be to have one pouch a week in both directions.