Letter from Gertrude Crompton to Frances Hodgkins

22 Jan 1915
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22 Jan 1915
Thriplands Kensington Court W Jan 22nd
My dearest Frances
It has been such a scramble this fleeting month in town. I hardly know where to begin or what to tell of. I am on the eve of departure again to my ‘wet little home in the west’ and it has all been like a futurist dream. Scraps of this and that jumbled up together & a sort of floating unreality about it all.
I have done everything that came along – pictures – music halls – war pictures. Sat with wounded men & heard thrilling yarns, met talkers & people interested in special departments of the war – seen heaps of people home on short leave from the front & rounded up those of my own friends within reach. Maud Nickalls came up for a couple of nights & we did a play. Grace was up for a day and I listened to all their difficulties about the hospital work & the rude trained nurses & recounted my own. They are very keen to get out to the front & so am I. We are in fact fed up with the scurvy way England is treating the Red + & wd. Like to get into the Croix Rouge, where one is welcomed instead of having insults hurled at one’s head! But it is very difficult to get anywhere to pull ropes and I don’t think we shall have much chance. Flax Bourton is still empty and like to be for some time. Meantime I am launching out upon a course of lectures at Bath & have cast my bread upon the waters. It remains to see if any results are to be got but it is about time I began to earn a little something ‘to live on’. It has been a thin winter. Anyhow it may bring me in pupils next summer. I have just been to see the cinematograph this p.m. Avezzano in complete ruin & the workmen searching for the dead. It is a piteous sight not a single house standing - as far as the eye can see nothing but heaps of stones (some still smoking). Pompeii is in better condition! They also showed the houses destroyed by bombs at Yarmouth & Kings Lynn also just crumbled ruins & finally the beautiful Cloth Hall at Ypres. It was one long hour & a half of demolition. I shall dream of a wicked world of houses tonight.
London has had snow and everything is slushy & disgusting. We expect Zeppelins with this steady temperature & barometer. We must have got good spies over in Germany for we invariably know when they are coming & the public have been warned each time to keep indoors. But each time the raid has never reached London but has disgorged itself elsewhere. I hear the thing that is being [?chiefly] expected just now is a raid or an attempt at invasion on the Irish coast. People have been warned to quit their houses at short notice & I know a man who was asked to do some secret service work there disguised as an artist! But he looked so like a solider - which he was - and so little like an artist his father wouldn’t let him take on the job!
Well my dear Thriplands is very Thriplands-y. Olivia rules the roost and like the Germans, takes what she wants & the rest of the world may lump it. They have taken the top floor & re-decorated & furnished it & have their daily tea parties up there just like American girls & poor Mother sits by herself down in the oak room with no one to speak to unless someone too dull to amuse upstairs is brought down to be entertained by Mother. Mary always a stranger to her. It is extraordinary! Shenks is commandeered to sew for the pair of them & no one else has a look in. I gave her a blouse or two to make up for me but O soon had her off it doing her things because she wanted warm things to go to Yorkshire – that I wanted warm things to go to Bath (the coldest place I know!) did not come in to the reckoning! I have had to have my blouses finished outside by a dressmaker! 3 weeks in which to be tidied up isn’t much to ask of the family maid over the whole year one wd think. These are little petty annoyances, but they vex the soul because they spell the big want of loving consideration at the back of it. It is my friends who help me always - never my own people. It is time I went away again before I get too bitter about it.
[end of letter no signature]
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Letters from Frances Hodgkins. Field, Isabel Jane, 1867-1950 : Correspondence of Frances Hodgkins and family / collected by Isabel Field. Ref: MS-Papers-0085-29. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.