Mrs. J.R. Derbyshire
62 Friars Avenue
Northampton NN4 9PX
Mr John Derbyshire
Siping Teacher's College
People's Republic of China
November 30th 1982
My dear Son,
had your letter this morning & super pictures. You look well bless you. I keep looking at them We were very amused at the little ones dress, bless them you'll have to tell them about thermal underwear!! You don't say if you have received your aerograms etc. I take it you did. It is very cold now, with heavy frosts, a sheet of ice on the pool. I should love a quilted jacket & will get Jean to do the measurements tomorrow. Blue, navy or red I don't mind love preferably blue. Have a picture in your hat dear, I'd love to see it. John I feel really bad about not sending you a Xmas parcel, I did make enquiries at the Post Office & said supposing I sent a cake, pud, mince pies etc. Tom reckoned it would take £15-£30 by air I'd have to put cake & pies in a tin to protect them declare them as foodstuffs & they may be pinched. What do you think? About Xmas dear, it would be marvellous of course to hear you. Xmas Eve — Friday we shall be at home all day from say 2pm. Xmas Day, Saturday at Judys till say 5pm. then home. Sunday, they are all coming home, so will be home all day. Monday we shall be home [Oh! morning we might go to Towcester] all day. It won't be the same without you dear, you know we shall be thinking & talking of you
We need a lot of little jobs doing John, the bathroom window won't close properly, the TV cable has broken away from its fastener just above Dads bedroom window I'll ask round to see if anyone has a ladder & would do them. Now, here are the 12 days of Xmas love.
On the first day of Xmas my true love sent to me
1. A partridge in a pear tree
On the 2nd day of Xmas my true love sent to me
Two Turtle doves, and repeat
3rd — French hens — repeat
4th — 4 Calling birds — repeat
5th — 5 Gold-old rings — ¨
6th — 6 Geese a-laying — ¨
7th — 7 Swans a-swimming — ¨
8th — 8 Maids a-milking — ¨
9th — 9 Pipers a-piping — ¨
10th — 10 Drummers drumming — ¨
11th — 11 Lords a-leaping — ¨
12th — 12 Ladies dancing — ¨
Just start each day i/c My true love sent to me — so — on the 3rd day
of Xmas my true love sent to me
3 French hens, 2 Turtle doves & a partidge in a pear tree — & so on. Hope you can remember the
Now for my jacket, these measurements are over my ordinary clothes & jumper [diagram] That will be lovely.
I went to town today & paid the rates. Am sending your Barclay statement, dear. How's your salary? Hope by now you are in your own apartment. On Monday Dec. 27th if Judy takes Tess to see the Hunt Meet, she says she'll take me too, so it would be afternoon before we get back. Hope you can sort this out love. We are all fine, so don't worry about us, it'll soon be Spring & there's already some bulbs through.
Mr Sturgess died on Sunday, do you know who I mean they live in Smiths' old house. He had cancer of the lung, it always depresses Dad, he thinks he's next.!! Everybody sends love.
Write soon love, your letters are so interesting. Jean says the national newspapers would be interested!! you'd be quite famous.
Its late Wednesday evening & I'll post this in the morning — pension day! Will write again before Xmas. Loads of love darling. Take good care of yourself.
X X X X X Mother
[The following note, and the statement from Barclays Bank, are in the same envelope, though the dates jon't seem to match.]
I posted what I thought was your Statement yesterday. but I've just found this, so I don't know what I sent you!! I did it in such a hurry. I bought an electric stove. It was £286 with £20 off. Cheaper than the gas one. I don't know how much more expensive to run but I don't suppose there'll be much in it. Its very nice, with self clean ovens & regulating hobs. It looks very neat. They're coming to fix it on Thursday & the gas coming to disconnect the old one. I've also ordered a gas boiling ring in case of strikes!
See you soon
Loads of love
- Winter in northeast China is severe. On the advice of colleagues, I had gone to a tailor in the town to have a cotton-padded jacket and pants made up. He did a good job, and the cost was next to nothing in exchange-rate terms, so I must have offered to have one made for Mum too.
- My other cold-weather accessory was a warm hat with fold-down ear protectors — my Lei Feng hat, I called it. (The cult of Lei Feng was still going strong in 1982.)
- From the earlier reference to Towcester, I assume this was the Grafton hunt, which is based in Towcester and out on Boxing Day. Boxing Day being a Sunday this year, they would have had the meet on Monday instead.