23 December 1916

Unfortunately this village cannot run to an early Celebration on the 25th. So that I shall probably have to walk a mile or two, in which case I can get to Church at 8.15 am. – Failing this I must go to a midnight celebration at one of the Btn. Head Quarters – I shall be able to do one or the other – it depends on whether I am out or about by day or night.

I suppose it is just conceivably possible that the Boche will make himself objectionable on the great day, – it is just the sort of thing that would appeal to him.   One thing is quite certain, that there will be none of the fraternizing which characterized the 1914 proceedings.

The weather today is about as bad as can be. There is a hurricane blowing, torrents of rain & hail – slates & chimneys crashing into roadways –& more still where houses have become somewhat dilapidated owing to shell fire, whole roofs & walls suddenly collapsing.

I believe I told you that Barton had turned up a few days ago but had not yet got back to the Regiment.   Yesterday he was wounded – a marvellous escape from complete destruction.  A shell burst next door to him, & he has got off with a badly shattered ancle.   It will not be long before he sees his ”Missus” again, though some months I expect before we see him here.  The Brigadier goes on leave again in January & there is a great deal of speculation as to what he proposes to do: we all think that he is tired of his present job & will go & try to get some influential friend to get him another.  We also think it not improbable that he will marry again.   In this case the lady is, we are sure, to be found at Brighton – though what her name & what her occupation, we do not know.   I think a change would in one way  do him good, a man can be too long at one job & get stale – but of course “de duchibus nil nisi bonum”.  I have just finished reading & have really enjoyed Thackeray’s “Snobs” & have now plunged into a translation of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables”.  I have seldom read anything much finer than his description of Waterloo – it is absolutely magnificent.   What the original French is like I can only imagine – the translation is excellent.  Please tell Dini that the Sportsman turns up with great regularity each Thursday – & is much appreciated.  It is very nice to read the doings of various people that one knows, who still find time to career over a football ground.   There is as a rule quite a good description of most of the school matches, & I can follow the doings of M.T.S. The trenches are now in a pretty horrible condition.    Where ever they are unrevetted the sides avalanche continuously onto the floor & from there a ghastly pea-soup like puddle sometimes three or four foot deep.  Where the sides of the trench are strong the whole thing forms a sort of conduit for collecting water, & a whole army of men has to be employed pumping the place clear. In some cases the only way to visit the line is by night “over the top” – none too safe a performance on a very dark night as the place is lettered with shell holes and one may take a cold plunge at any minute.  The whole aspect of the weather is so miserable that I am beginning to feel depressed & must stop this letter & go to bed.

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