Letter from Ursula Wood to Beryl Lock

Letter No.: 
Saturday [21 April 1951]

.... Thank you so much for the heavenly flowers - they really do the gardeners credit. I brought some down here.
Life has been hectic. Covent Garden rehearsals going full out, & the Dorking Festival, & Mrs V.W. frightfully ill - no-one can discover what it is, but she has temperatures varying between 102 and 97, & has lost the use of her hands - it’s wretched for her, particularly just now.1  Ralph is managing well, though this week has been rather too much of a good thing - leaving the house at 8.40 - Rehearsals 10-1.30, sandwiches in the car, conducting rehearsals from 2.45 - 5.30, & then an evening concert - but now its only Covent Garden. Of course it’s thrilling, & exasperating and satisfying & unsatisfying - but it’s doing pretty well, & not too unlike what he intended - the orchestra is good, & the singers know their music, but he wants more acting.
The major worry just now is Appolyon [sic], whether he can possibly fall dead in a 3ft mask, & if so - how to get him off stage without ruining his wings! It’s all set for Thursday, Ralph, Gil, & Mrs Curle2 will dine with me first, (his party) & we are going to a party given by the management afterwards. Then you shall have your evening coat back! I have been grateful for it.
I wore my blue American (Hattie Carnegie3) dress to make my speech in. It went well, & I enjoyed doing it – in fact I think public speaking may be a taste as easily acquired as a taste for gin -  & everyone was very nice about it. I was on the Milton –  Handel night, so the matter was easy.
Gil came to dinner here - so did Kathleen Long,4 who was playing  - frightfully pleased with herself as she had made her own dress – so I had plenty of support, & Ralph was pleased with me.
All these activities have rather interfered with gardening. I don’t know how that was so – but everything is so behind this year.
The Martels were in London on Monday, so I had them & their parents to dinner – not a word of English among them.5 There were 6 of us, & 7 of them, & then dancing & singing, all very gay & bilingual – but I did rather tremble for the floor!
No news otherwise.   
Thank you so much –


1. Adeline died shortly afterwards on 10th May.
2. i.e. Gilmour Jenkins and Adeline’s sister, Cordelia Curle.
3. Hattie Carnegie was a well-known Viennese-born New York  dress designer.
4. Kathleen Long, the English pianist.
5. The Martels were presumably friends, possibly refugees,  known to both Ursula and her  mother.

Location of copy:

General notes: 

Beryl Lock was Ursula Wood’s mother. Letter sent to her at Valley Gate, George Road, Milford on Sea, Hampshire.
Date deduced from postmark 22 April 1951, which was a Sunday.

Cobbe 553
Original database number: