We are more cheerful now. In the first place we are less cold. The wind has dropped and we have devised various schemes for mitigating the excessive ventilation. I have hung two gaudy Arab rugs over my window, with a layer of Times between them and the bars. Some genius had an inspiration, acting on which we have pitched an E.P. tent in the mess room. It just fits and is the greatest success. Finally, I sent my bearer to speculate in a charcoal brazier. This also is a great success. Three penn’orth of charcoal burns for ages and gives out any amount of heat; and there is no smell or smoke: far superior to any stove I’ve ever struck. So we live largely like troglodytes in darkness but comparative warmth. Between breakfast and tea one can sit on the sunny side of the verandah round the inner court, though all sunshine has still to be shared with the flies; but they’re not the flies they were, more like English October flies.
Secondly, as far as we can see, the main troubles up stream are over. My account to Papa last mail was not very accurate, but I will write him the facts again, in the light of fuller information. Anyway they’re back at Kut now, and ought to be able to look after themselves till our reinforcements come up. The first two boat-loads have arrived here this morning, and are pushing on. But it was a serious reverse and may have very bad effects here and in India and Persia unless it is promptly revenged.
Owing to the Salsette’s grounding, there will be no mail this week.
My leg remains much the same. I can walk quite well with a slight limp but the doctor won’t let me walk more than fifty yards. I am very thankful I was stopped from going up to Kut. “A” Coy. has been working at top pressure there, entrenching and putting up wire entanglements. And now they will have to stand a siege, on forty days’ rations, till Younghusband and Gorringe can relieve them. So I should be very much de trop there. I always felt that my entree into the football world should be pregnant with fate, and so it is proving.
I have been reading some Swinburne. He disappoints me as a mind-perverse, fantastic and involved. Obscure when he means something, he is worse when he means nothing. As an imagination he is wonderful. His poetry is really a series of vivid and crowding pictures only held together by a few general and loose, though big ideas. His style is marvellously musical but overweighted by his classical long-windedness and difficult syntax. Such a contrast to Tennyson where the idea shines out of the language which is so simple as to seem inevitable, and yet wonderfully subtle as well as musical.
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December 12, 1915.
In the stress of the times I can’t remember
when I last wrote or what
I said, so please forgive repetitions and obscurities.