Topic: 19 October 1938: To Hazel from John Glen McCauley
In which John writes Hazel expressing his shock after receiving the cable telling him of their father's death. He mentions the arrival in London of L. G. Westwood [Westie], a visit to the Lodge Temple, Buckingham Palace, a possible car buying and shipping to New Zealand venture, the murderous fog and a trip to Scotland where he heard Gracie Fields and was unimpressed with the belching smoke of the Midlands.
C/- N.Z. House
415 The Strand
19 October 1938
My dear Haze,
I have just come home and to my absolute shock read Muv’s cable – poor old Dad [George Thomas McCauley (1884-1938)]. It was the last news I expected and seems difficult to realise with my being so far away. Such a distance makes me feel so helpless too – I can’t even suggest anything let alone do it. I haven’t even got enough money at the moment (yes, its OK – just remembered what I’ve got at home) to be of any assistance should you need it, and by the time this reaches you, you will have written me so our letters will cross. As a matter of fact I started a letter to you on your birthday but didn’t get a chance to finish it so have scrapped it.
I only hope you are not having too worrying a time by other people and that everyone is kind to you – I can imagine you will be most upset, because we saw most of Dad and although we know he didn’t do lots of things we would have liked for his own good, we do know that deep down he was a dear and had kind thoughts. As I told Muv, I naturally wonder if you people think I was too hard on him, but I think you understand why I did growl so much – I hope Muv does too – she thinks I’m very hard and it worries me in case she imagines I have callous thoughts now. Nevertheless it's of no avail saying too much in such circumstances I feel – I have the knowledge really that people will, those who understand me, be aware that I felt about our loss in the way that is only natural for a family to feel when a parent dies, but I’m not one to say a great deal and that is all there is to it. Of course Dad was not absolutely happy you know, and such a thought tends to make the news less acute.
I received your letter yesterday, so it was as well I held this a couple of days or we would have crossed again. You certainly sounded relieved at the War news, a good cause you had too. If such was the tension there, you should have some idea of its reception here. The only point is, how long will it last. Not too long I fear – but leave it alone while the happy state of affairs exits.
I have confirmation of your good cooking, from one L. G. Westwood [Westie: Lloyd George Westwood (1912-1996)] who arrived last week, so I can see why Andy is putting on weight. He must be feeling much fitter generally too I should say, and with his colds I guess. Westie walked in on us, as it were, although I knew he was due any day – as a matter of fact it did occur that the cable was in his connection. Fortunately I had time to show him about for a week – so that he now knows how to get from where we are to the Strand on his own!! – at least I think he does. We had a perfect day when we went to the Guard Changing and he was furious for leaving his camera at home. He doesn’t like the fogs and so far is not in love with London – that is understandable at first.
However he did appreciate, tell Andy, going through the Lodge Temple – it is a colossal building with 17 lodge rooms, 32 dining rooms (we arrived about 5pm and of course had dinner after which incidentally cost 15/-) and with, well, lots of other things including an amazing library and museum. The two doors into the Temple each weigh 1¼ tons, beautifully designed in bronze. The mosaic work on the ceiling alone of one room took 3 years to put up. The seats are covered in gold leaf. Naturally it is more modern than Buckingham Palace, so it’s a bit unfair in its claims for superiority. Westie has gone to Southampton now but I hope to see more of him before he leaves for the Gold Coast.
I rate your remarks re car from here. Well now I can’t promise about taking out but anyway there is no advantage. It would have to be in my name 12 months to avoid duty and that means garaging for that time here and what is more you car would have depreciated by the fact that it was 12 months older. This would be far greater loss when it came to a resale than what you would save in avoiding customs. The duty is 15% I think – Muv mentioned she may want one, also Westie’s father. If I could afford it I’d take one too, but I don’t think I can avoid customs for myself even because I certainly can’t afford to get one now. What is more my movements are unknown – I may not go home next year and if I do I may not go direct.
Nevertheless I wish I’d known sooner that Andy was wanting me because I’m sure we could have made some money between us. I would have liked someone to have gone into the idea with me and someone who definitely wants a car is much more suitable as you can see. To send a car out for sale there is perhaps a small risk, but very small – but to experiment when the recipient actually wants a car is no risk. Therefore I suggest Andy tells me what kind of a car he wants and about how old and an idea of what they cost there. I’ll be pretty sure when buying that he has a margin on which to walk (otherwise he may as well get one in N.Z.) and then if he can sell at a reasonable profit, ok. I’ll get him another – if he can’t, well never mind he still owns the car he wants.
Now is the time because in winter here the prices drop – I’m not right up to the prices as yet because I’ve not been interested but upon receipt of your letter and the thought of the idea to me I had a look in one garage and find Morris Eights 1937 at £90 – others are cheaper and again dearer – these were guaranteed 6 months not that that is any use there but it suggests a degree of condition = 1938 Hillman £130. Those figures may help Andy. I don’t know what each of you have of course – I haven’t much but could help a bit in the scheme – by a bit I mean all I’ve got. I’m supposing Andy had £150 to spare – that here would be approx £120 – supposed I buy something at about £80 that allows £40 for freight and packing – I was told an 8-horse job cost £33 for freight (not confirmed) and £8 for packing (not confirmed). I don’t know what such a car would bring in N.Z. but I’m reckoning about £200 - if he does ok, repeat order quick.
Andy may not want to spend that amount on the other hand he may want a heavy car (initially much cheaper, but more freight) but whatever he thinks, I suggest you write straight away. If you just want a car, and can’t be bothered with a selling idea well ok. I’m still only too pleased to get you one if the prices given appear to make it worthwhile. I would prefer a slight variety on selection to make it easier, but if you have a decided choice say so and I’ll get it – please give me idea of price of what you would get similar model in N.Z. so I can be sure it's worth your while. There rough on cars, but you know my enthusiasm when a deal is possible.
Had a long letter from Auntie Lizzie [Elizabeth Ann Foreman (nee Ford/Faull)] the other day. Foul weather has started again, cold and foggy – the fogs are murder – in a good one the bus conductors lead the buses with torches. June, we went to Scotland in the little crate and saw the exhibition (not much chop) and Gracie Fields was there the same day too and I could hear her singing through the mikes, but damn me if I could find her anywhere – I was mad. The Lake District is beautiful – more so than the Lochs in Scotland I thought. The Midlands are terrible – it is impossible to tell where one town ends and another begins, just factories and iron and steel works belching forth smoke.
Well I must away now. Regards to Andy and tell Rae I’m writing shortly.
Love, John [handwritten].