La Vie En Rose for 2009 April 6 (entry 0)

< Hmm
Breathe in >

“For myself, I think the Balkans suit me well this year anyway.”: I'm back at my old haunt, the Imperial War Museum. It's an epic journey from East Finchley to Waterloo or Elephant and Castle, but at least it's a straight shot, so I can sit and pretend I'm elsewhere. They're working on the front on the building, so you have to walk around to the schools entrance. There always seem to be at least 500 kids running around the various guns and planes and tanks. This week, most of them are French. Oh, eurostar, how I love you, how I hate you.

I can hear the clanging of the construction very clearly from the reading room, but it's easy enough to ignore when I get lucky and hit a collection of letters that's easy to read: interesting and well written in legible handwriting. The best are those written by someone with a passionate reason for journalling, or someone very attached to his family. Here's one, "poor Private Haines," who works as a dental assistant and tells his parents in every letter not to worry about him. He also sends them money and tells them to “GET A BOTTLE OF WINE [underlined 4 times] out of my next installment.” In a way they remind me of my own letters home, always starting with excuses of how busy I've been and begging for forgiveness for not writing sooner, and ending with requests for care packages including cheetos soap, jam, and film.

In other discoveries, "in town" seems to be universal Britspeak for London, even if they live elsewhere. or in outer London. Here it is in 1916, and my own friends use it today, asking "are you going in town?" to mean central London.


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