»  Letter: Thursday, November 27, 1973

    J.R. Derbyshire to John Derbyshire

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J.R. Derbyshire
62 Friars Avenue
Great Britton

Mr. John Derbyshire
2 Harbor Lane
New Rochelle
New York 10805


Dear Son,

It was a surprise receiving your letter but a pleasant one & to know you are still doing OK. Your experiences bring back happy memories of wondering where I would sleep tonight etc. & out of the blue rescue. take my advice put all you can in the bank its your best friend & you will never be let down. at least you are in the right job for the winter i.e. food & warmth in plenty of work to keep you busy. In my day work was always scarce in town one had to go to the outback & when the slump came in 1930 everything finished & it was 10 men for every job & no visible future but I dont think the same conditions can occur again but this country is vunerable & if only 1 manufacturing country fails it would start a chain reaction which would be, to say the least, very serious. Of course U.S.A. & a few other countries who are self supporting would not feel it to much but Japan, like us are very vunerable.

you sound a bit surprised to get my letter, but whilst you were in Hong Kong I wrote you 3 letters & you didnt get any as you changed your address before any letters arrived, so I held back this time till you were more or less settled & I will write you now & again, but as Mum tells you all the news I don't know what I can write about, but I remember it was always nice to get a letter from home if only to say all is well hope its the same with you seemed to give me enough spirit to carry on for another period. About myself I can only say I feel alright not as sprightly as last year but over the last 5 yrs I have found every year there were things I could do the year before that are beyond me now but that is life & to sum up for 75 I think I am not to bad & have nothing to grumble about. I eat & sleep well but I like walking & find it more difficult every year but I can walk to town[1], which I do 4 times (weather permitting) & ride back[2] with the shopping & I shop around in town for the special offers saves a few Bobs[3] in a week so dont worry about me I am careful & try to avoid any pitfalls but cant expect to miss them all. Your Mum is always telling me to take care. Sometimes when the weather is bad I get down hearted because I cant get out for a walk then I look about me & see the state of the world & worry as to what sort of future you Judith & little Tess have compared to the life I had. As you say you wonder what its like to look back. Well I can look back 70 years & remember & I must admit I was lucky in as much as the times would allow & only have memories of being very well looked after till I was able to look after to look after myself. but in those days the world was a very big place, not as it is now (it took me 5½ weeks to come from N.Z. as against 35 hours now). But the odd thing I find on looking back is, memory only seem to retain those one wants to forget & the nice things you would like to remember are very hazey. But I can more or less remember a world you would not be able to tolerate or live in as it was brutal & hard & only the fit survived. but the advance made in medicine & surgery has tended to advance life & technology has advanced that life to be lived. but whilst I & many of my generation have enjoyed the benefit of these advances, its you & your generation who will have to pay the price, in as much as the more artificial you make life the more you spoil the need for living & the bigger the Battle between living natural & living artificial becomes & nature must win in the end. So I worry for you because I think you will see the end & I dont think it will be nice. on the other hand there is the old adage that there is no poison with an antidote & man has never made any thing to destroy without meeting with someone who has invented something to destroy the destroyer. I, in my lifetime, things can advance as much as they have. I cant visulise what the world will be like when you are my age. another thing people must decide is that all the talk about God & hereafter are so much Bunk. look around & delve in history to see how much blood has been shed in the cause of religon, its just or was a deterant to advancement to better the lot of the people of the world & it is just beginning to show in this affluent age and as the people increase in the world so will the myth be exploded.

So my advice to you is to enjoy every moment of your life (because its short) if you can't do good dont do any harm & watch your health its the most valuable thing you have. Socrates meaning was life is sickness if you are healthy in as much as life is on razor edge from birth to death & must be fought to keep only to have to give up in the end & you will never have peace as long as you are alive. I look back on my life & can see no reason for my existence & no human is of any use, some leave their mark on life its only like a blot on a letter. As you say we are alike & I agree on all you say & remember when you know your faults you are 99% on the way to cureing them.

Had a letter from Enid. She left her job & is going all over N.Z. staying with friends & friends of friends but has got to be home by 24 July 74 when her lodgers leave. By the way dont send us any gifts as, owing to VAT, costs the earth to get anything out of customs. never mind a standing cock having no brains. if you are not selective with your women you can get V.D. & never mind what they tell you it cant be cured & catches you in after years so be very choosy I have seen the aftermath of V.D. 20 years after & its not a nice sight. I am glad you have found some nice friends & hope they are not fair weather ones. I used to leave my friends behind when I moved on & make fresh ones. Anyway if I dont write again before Xmas have a nice one & a happy New Year & as you have good digs look after them & keep sober & dont do anything to attract Police.

Love from Mum




  1. From 62 Friars Avenue to the center of Northampton (the portico of All Saints Church) is 1.67 miles as Dad walked it: 1.22 miles downhill to the River Nene at South Bridge, then 0.45 miles uphill to the town center.
  2. Ride back, that is, on a municipal bus — either the No. 7 to the western end of Friars Avenue, or the No. 19 to Queen Eleanor's Cross.
  3. "Bob" means a shilling, equivalent to 5p in the post-1971 coinage, which Dad never got used to. It was odd of him to write the plural form, though. "Bobs" was never used in speech; it was always "five bob" or "thirty bob."