»  Letter: Sunday, May 1, 1983

    E.A. Derbyshire to John Derbyshire

  Image of Letter

Envelope front

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  Transcription of Letter

Mrs J.R. Derbyshire
62, Friars Avenue

John Derbyshire
Siping Teacher's College
Siping City
Jilin Province
People's Republic of China

Sunday May 1st  11.45 am

My dear son,

Just had our snack, thought I'd start your letter. Yesterday was so beautiful, a real hot, sunshiny day, today is grey & dismal, pouring with rain! I worked in the garden all day yesterday, weeding etc., with many sit-downs on my swing in between, Auntie Cis called, Judy rang, she couldn't come over as her washing machine had broken down & she was waiting for the mechanic to call  she later told me, engine gone phut, £50 to repair! Dad's lawn mower gave up the ghost, so did the vacuum cleaner & we had the T.V. man to look at the gog. Something to do with the button plate, anyway he put things right £9.50 which I thought very reasonable, he was here quite a along time. He took the vacuum back with him. The bathroom is beautiful, not quite finished but the tile people boobed. We ordered 16 sq yds of plain & 1½ of patterened, they sent 10 sq yds of plain & 4½ of patterned. Ray was furious, it will be Wednesday before we get the rest, though Ray is coming tomorrow to grout the ones he's done. Auntie Cis was very impressed, gave me a hug & said "You deserve it"!! wasn't that nice of her?

Brian Walden is spouting forth & two large pork chops are defrosting in the hearth!! I've got your proxy card for voting in the local elections held on May 5th. I'll do as you ask. I hope you got "Wuthering Heights" & your tape & the job application I sent on to you some time ago, from your friend at Ealing College.[1]

It's now Thursday night, so will add a bit more. Got your tax form yesterday, sent it off today, so will have to await events!! We've had the coldest, wettest April on record, & it isn't much better yet. It was local elections today. Dad & I walked up to vote & I voted Con. for you, we voted Labour, there's not much to choose between them, they all make promises they don't keep, but its no good moaning about local councils if one doesn't vote. Dad & I then walked up to Garden Centre, we thought we'd get a bin to put all the garden rubbish in to make compost, but the metal one Dad liked was nearly £40 & the cheapest — a large plastic one — was nearly £20, no decision has been made, but I think it will be the plastic one. We are still waiting for the rest of the tiles, I'm really cross about them. Judy says she's going in after school tomorrow to "blow" them up. Dad no longer goes to town, so I do all the shopping now, I have to go Thurs & Fri its so heavy to carry. I put my cheque in T.S.B. & then paid phone & electricity  we haven't had our new rates bill yet, I rang yesterday & the girl said folks on rate rebates hadn't been sent out yet. There's a TV series on — Inside China — but so far its been about communes in the South East, & the changing way of life since the Cultural Revolution, very interesting, there is special emphasis on one child only families & the awareness of the more materialistic side of life. I saw on your tax form you finish July 15th at Siping, so I start counting the weeks  it doesn't seem so long. Going to bed now love, so will finish this off later. By the way, what do the Chinese characters on your envelope mean John?[2]

It's now Monday 11th[3] & still raining. We are waiting for the bloke to come & look at the lawn mower. He said he'd come last Saturday but he never turned up. When Dad rang again today, he said he'd forgotten!! typical British workman. We still haven't got the tiles. Judy did go & have a ding-dong with the man in charge, she said he was quite offensive, unfortunately, the walls are half done, so we're dependent on them getting the rest, which they say will now be Wednesday or Thursday.

Dad is not too bad at the moment, though he's still got this gut trouble & he can't go far. Judy has applied for a Dep-Head at Whitehills,[4] which is only round the corner from them. I wish she could get it. I think of you every minute & long for your return.

Oh! News flash, General Election June 9th so let me have your proxy card  There'll be the usual blithering & promises from all sides

Darling, it's now May 13th so will finish this off, ready to post tomorrow.

Still no tiles, I'm furious, will ring tomorrow & see what's happening.

Hope all is well with you dear.

Write soon, as always,

        Love you

                    Mother  X X X X

Thursday 12th  Still pouring!!

            Almost flooded out



  1. Presumably Jingzu Chen. I have no recollection.
  2. So far as I can recall, the only Chinese characters I wrote on my envelope were the ones for "England."
  3. Presumably she means the 9th.
  4. A primary school in Acre Lane, Northampton, in the newish Spring Park estate north of the town, just off the Welford Road. Judy and Phil were living in Acre Lane at the time.