Last night we had a pleasant surprise. The band cannot of course be allowed to play for fear of attracting the submarines but in spite of this we had music with dinner, & better music in my opinion than the band could have produced. We have on board with us a regiment that has its home in Wales, & has also a Welsh choir. They need no piano, a violin is quite sufficient to keep them in tune. During dinner last night they appeared & sang to us various things from their repertoire. Men of Harlech started the programme followed by Land of Our Fathers & ending with Abide With Me, all most excellently rendered. To my mind the finest item of all was “Jesus Lover of my Soul” to a tune that I have heard somewhere before but cannot remember where. It is a Welsh tune, I believe, & is undoubtedly very fine indeed when sung by male voices. Today is Sunday & as we have a padre on board we had a Church Parade. For the first time for I am ashamed to say how many months I had a chance of getting to a celebration. At 7.0 this morning in the saloon, Ashley our Brigade Chaplin held a service – it had to serve for use for Advent, New Year, Xmas & Ephipany. Previous Sundays have for some time found me in railway carriages or on board ship with no service. Now that we are getting back we can hope for better things in the near future. Other Church parades took place in the course of the morning followed at 10.30 a.m. by our usual daily inspection. This time the Brigadier came & had a look at us, & we of course felt duly honoured in consequence. The rest of the day has been spent in reading with a few intervals of golf & quoits by way of exercise. The weather is not so good now, it is calm enough, but has started raining & this is of course a discomfort to a certain extent. It is also beginning to get colder & we shall soon have to resume our discarded underwear. By the way I forgot to mention in any of my epistles that on the day before we left our so-called “desert” camp at Alexandria I actually bathed in the sea, & not only bathed but thoroughly enjoyed it. The water was warm, there is no other word for it, the day was hot & I could have stopped in for hours without getting cold.
It is a curious thing that neither on this voyage nor on the way out have I ever felt really fit. It is not that I am sea-sick, there is practically no motion on the boat at all, but my head feels as if it might quite well belong to somebody else, & I am always tired. I never feel really fresh except perhaps for the first two hours after waking in the morning. It may be that this appalling & never ceasing vibration is the cause of it: that & the stuffiness of the saloons. We have to shut out all the lights & in doing so we usually manage to shut out all air as well.
If this voyage goes on very much longer this letter will develop into a volume of history, it has enough pages already – goodness knows when you will find time to read it all. There is so much time on one’s hands here that I am writing letters to everyone whom I think I have left in the lurch lately.