Bought this new fountain pen yesterday & am trying it out on you. I’m fine. Feeling well & enjoying myself doing nothing here in college, while everybody’s away. They’ve given me ancient medieval room in inner courts while mine’s used for convention. Weather however has been awful, only sunshine I’ve seen in ten days appeared this morning for five minutes & I was inside at the time so couldn’t enjoy it. Five minutes later, grey again. All the Protestants are walking around with palms today, evidently the Episcopals do that too.
Later – warmer, now all we need is the sun. Daylight time, doesn’t get dark till eight o’clock in March. Have a happy Easter!
Sorry I haven’t written in a while. Under the weather. Three weeks of cold drizzle every day, worst spring climate I’ve ever experienced. Today, though, it cleared up and has been sunny though cool. They say spring really doesn’t come till May.
The Sussex trip to Andrew Crozier’s is postponed due to a strange infection which caused my left index finger to suddenly get very swollen, white & sore, for no evident reason. Antibiotics, penicillin, now it’s finally getting better. Wonderful that doctors are FREE here and for prescriptions, each item, no matter what, is 30 cents. In that regard it’s a SANE place.
Have to make up mind about future in next few days. Grant offers have now come in from Columbia, Harvard, Michigan, & the U. of N.Y. at Buffalo. The Buffalo grant would be a teaching fellowship so I’m tempted. I’m not too crazy about the idea of more school at this point, and if I’m going to do it, I’d like to start alternating between taking classes and teaching them. But Davie promises I can do this at Essex too so that’s equally tempting, though again, the Great Unknown (so far the “university” there’s still only a gleam in his eye).
I am OK. I didn’t go to Hastings. A finger infection followed by a sinus infection, last one for this year I hope, so I stayed around here. Have actually had a few fair weather days – about one out of every 3 – in the past few weeks, so it’s been all right. And now everyone’s back, term starts Tuesday.
I’ve spent a lot of agonizing time trying to decide about next year. All offers look very good (as does Fulbright’s to stay here) but for some reason I was ungratefully a little discontent with all of them. I’ve suddenly got a yen for a more pleasant climate so wrote to Woodrow Wilson, very late but I hope in time, for allocation of grant to me at grad school of U. of New Mexico (Albuquerque). That probably sounds like the desert to you, it does to me too but I’ve heard it’s a pretty nice place if you can stand the cowboys (rednecks). Mountains, sunshine, Navajo and Hopi, dry climate, all sound a lot better than Buffalo. Looks like I could get a master’s in one year, 2ndyear a teaching fellowship. They start school Labor Day and have actually asked me to show up then, so what to do?
Happy Shakespeare Year! The color scenes from Shxpr on other side of this aerogramme are the reason why it cost ten pence rather than usual sixpence (dime vs. a nickel). So I hope it gives you 5 cents’ worth of pleasure to see Hamlet holding the skull, Julius Caesar being stabbed, Prospero waving his magic wand @ Caliban, Bottom in the ass’s head and Falstaff lifting the tankard. Though I’ve neither been stabbed nor fondled a skull here I’ve felt at times some sympathy with Bottom and Caliban, and have observed many a lifted tankard. The girls pictured are Ophelia (in strange weeds), Desdemona, Miranda and Titania, all pretty as English girls today. The dancing fairy is Ariel, who nowadays would have a hyphenated last name & fit in here perfectly.
All meanwhile goes well, I’m actually working a little (with Davie) and enjoying the miraculous English spring weather which we are, finally, getting a little bit of. Part of every day is rainy & cloudy, but in between the sun shines & everything is green & very beautiful.
In the past week I’ve entertained an American acquaintance visiting here, one John Maynard whom I think I’ve mentioned, I met him at Harvard when we were both there trying for the Henry. (Have at times wondered whether I should have accepted the Henry & stuck to my academic guns when I had the chance.) John has been travelling in Europe on a grant from Harvard, has spent two months in Florence and says it was wonderful. This has convinced me to set my sights on Italy and Greece for summer. Still up in the air about the New Mexico plan (& much else concerning future) but will let you know before long.
Thanks for your letter. Yes, I got back here safe & sound. Yes, Yugoslavia was somewhat of a problem as advertised. I was actually made to get off a train at the frontier, in the middle of the night, by strange military-uniformed police, and held in station amid empty railyards two hours, before being permitted to get back on the train, which, happily, had not moved an inch this whole time. American passport a definite advantage in some times & places, but a dubious benefit at Greek/Yugoslav frontier three weeks ago.
Anyway I’m fine, I have new digs, two rooms on the Newmarket Road, just outside town, near Midsummer Common (where I heard a bagpiper in kilts practicing today as I walked past on way home from college), across the road from the Star Brewery & pub, and upstairs (third floor) from landlady to whom I pay a modest rent. There is a fire escape outside the kitchen window, above the sink, where I can crawl out & prop my portable typewriter & do my work, looking out over the laundry lines & “telly” antennae of Cambridge.
After my Athens experience the English climate is for once a relief. Nice weather the past two days, cool & clear, about the best that can be expected here, not miraculous but nice. (Before that, a week of the familiar rain & grey, to welcome me back.) I’m getting settled in my place, cooking myself huge dinners every night, main course alternating between mince meat, lamb chops, bacon & eggs, and sausages, all of which I enjoy & find not too costly. I’m not as bad a cook as I thought, it seems. I’ve made bookshelves by sawing a large board (bed board) into three long planks, hunting down some bricks, and stacking the boards atop the bricks – basic but serviceable. Actually I find the place very nice, fills my needs anyway. The time goes slowly as no one’s around (between terms) except the tourists, however this lack of distraction (company) helps me to get some work done. I’ve taken a day off for one short trip, to Bury St. Edmunds (a Norman abbey) and am planning a few days in London, then maybe, if I save up, a longer trip next month to the West Country, Wales and Ireland if I can manage it (though probably most of that will have to wait until I’ve sold a few articles).