In the tent
Tuesday 10 April 1917
Here’s the letter I owe you cos yours came yesterday & Mother’s of 4 March: No 10 – so I guess there are 2 more – 8 & 9 – wandering around still.
I had one from Mu [?] & another from Faith Hollidge who, having left school, is helping her father [Dr Hollidge, headmaster from Kyre College] to write to old Kyrians at the front (?) – or rather – on the way. My parcel hasn’t come to light yet but its early to expect it: just before dinner I went down to our post office & registered a parcel to you: it should arrive as early as this letter & I hope you’ll get it all right. I’ll just give you a list of the things in it so as you’ll know what to do with them: perhaps you’d better fumigate them – I dunno. I guess they are pretty clean though cos I got them all from Indians or French – no Gyppo dirty hands have sold them to me.
There’s a sort of flash cushion cover for Mother – as I’ve told her in a letter; a shawl affair for Mack – I dunno whether it’s any good or not – it didn’t cost much; a little silly silk handkerchief each for Ruth, Dorc, Ray, Joy & you, & also for you a little brooch & an Australia Day button which I picked up here in the sand one day; & 2 stamps – I spose you don’t collect them now – Cook Island stamps: see the name of the chap on the envelope!
The railway timetable & postcards may be of interest to you all: see if you can see our swimming lakes on the map at the back of timetable: it’s marked in clear letters LT.
The PCs are just odd ones I’ve seen & bought at odd times in the town & show in some sort the pictures we see here in real life. I meant to put in a daily paper but didn’t have one with me – but I send you today’s which I bought this morning: you see we get the news of the world – after a fashion every day at about breakfast time or before: the Gyppos bring the papers round after they come here in the train.
Yesterday was Easter Monday! so of course we had a picnic. First thing at 5.30 was reveille – we had an early breakfast, letters were given out & then we proceeded to the bulls for a day’s shooting: weather was pretty good & we stayed out for dinner which consisted of bully beef (or ‘dog’ – as it is usually called), bread, jam, a few biscuits & water – all of which we carried with us of course.
I managed to shoot fairly well: got the possible (25/25) at 100 yards; then 18/20, application shooting at 20 yards – & 4 hits out of 5 shot in 30 secs at same range. I should have scored 5 hits – but took mighty good aim the last time thinking I had time to spare – when – bob down went the target & my bullet hit the sand behind – just a fraction of a second too late. It was a respectable interesting day altogether.
We came home for tea & had a good kick at the footie afterwards till dark. I went to the YM for a while but it was too crowded to write so I came back here & read till bed time. Les W went to Cairo yesterday morning – got 48 hours leave of absence.
Today we are doing nothing in particular – just messing about with rifles. I think we are to go out again to continue shooting at the other ranges either tomorrow or the next day: hope so anyhow. It’s pretty warm in our tent today & hot outside: not much breeze: it doesn’t forget to be cool enough at night & fresh at 5.30am when we arise now.
I haven’t yet chucked away my pyjamas! It’s nice to have a thorough change of clothes at night as long as we can & the extra washing doesn’t amount to much.
I found the piece of your school hat band in your letter all right, it looks as if it’s a pretty decent one. I like the colours – something like Kyre only the blue is too light & also you have those little narrow stripes of ‘silver & gold’ extra. You ask if I know all of the Egyptian language yet! Well hardly! But I know a few words & phrases. I’ll give you a few: wallet or Walla – boy; bint – girl; talla heena – come here; hickory – quickly; imshee imshee! – go away; mongeree – food; gib it? or gibit as they say it – give it; but that’s mongrel English; backsheesh – ‘as a present’ or ‘for nothing’. So a boy will ‘gib it dinkum kiwi shine’ for one piastre, but if you refuse to let them shine your boots they offer sometimes to give them a ‘buckshes-brush’ which means they’ll dust ‘em for nothing.
The kids want to sell you ‘olanges’ (hard ‘g’) – ‘velly nice – velly sweet olanges’ or ‘tomartas’ etc. You tell them ‘Fineesh money’! – but they won’t have it & reply ‘Naw, naw, no fineesh money, Australia plenney money – Australia velly good- plenney mongeree – plenney money!’ So if you can read and understand that – go ahead & think you are a little Gyppo or Arab girl.
The piastre here is worth 2½d – if I’ve never told you so before: the money system is easy enough: lowest coin is ½ piastre or 1¼d; then a piastre 2½; 2 piastre piece 5d; 5 piastre piece 1/- near enough; 10 piastres 2/-; 20 piastres 4/- or 4/2 actually – but this coin is a big clumsy thing like our old crowns & is not common. Their notes are for 50, 100, 500 piastres (10/-, ₤1 & ₤5) & so on.
We never get any pay in silver – only in notes & they pay us up to the nearest 10/- so we are generally a few shillings behind. My 2/- a day is just nicely enough here to keep going: I have not gone back nor have I saved any since landing.
I’m enclosing a brown paper parcel cover just to show you the name of one of the shops in the town where we get good jam & biscuits etc sometimes.
Good Day to you. Glad you are doing all right at school; don’t write a letter in French or not yet till I study the language up a bit.
Goodbye the noo.
Did I tell you before to send a photo to Mrs Simon Rowe? Park Street, Unley. If not please send her one some day when you think of it – tell Dorc to do it! Also send one to Coz Frank & write him a little note telling him I’m going to write to him some day! Hip Hip