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Geese Into Swans

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7 rue Monsieur, VII
06 February 1964


Darling Soo

Oh Mrs Ham. Did you see Raymond in the Times. Not likely where you are, will send when the Col finishes – he depends on me for news of home. Can't imagine why Debo sits in England when she and your country are of an age. Though I suppose America doesn't hold the same attraction with her President dead. Yes yours too, Soo. Now between us, do you wonder if Bosomy and 9 ever – of course you don't, far too busy with your own life. Well there are more and more Americans every year so I suppose some do.

I'm too old for England now, my poor bones will be colder than they are here. When I die you will have to visit my Tomb (ask your Hen) in Paris. I can't fathom why people live anywhere else – when I'm away I die for it. Wear white like the French Queens Soo & bring your Dinky to pay her respects to her old aunt. Though perhaps she will chuck it all and stay on so better not.

Wid. I mind. She was not much changed from when you were here last but that was her appeal wasn't it. Raymond says, 'Never have I met anyone more individual and fascinating'. He wouldn't have. Such a shock, one thought she would have gone on forever, exactly as one thought of Favre & esp. Muv. Funny how one never quite believes it will really happen & with the Widow anticipating her death for years & years it was esp. easy. Too late for your gruesome tour (really Susan) & quick, at least. Now when I die you will read the will won't you. You realize now they will all clamour to get at you when you go but what did you expect, with your tease. Some dull collective like shopkeepers next Soo, I insist. The ones here are rather unhelpful and it must be worse where you are - though since the war & Heywood Hill I have never looked at the public in quite the same way. Well when one relies on nice things the way I do – books & clothing & furniture &tc – it can't be helped.

Woman sent her condolences – you have mine Susan – buried in a letter about food of all things. So much lovelier to eat than to read about, don't you agree. Fancy her of all people remembering I had a diary as a child. I'd quite forgotten. Remember Bodley leaving hers open in the drawing room when home from Paris & quite spoiling things for everyone. (Now Susan be nice.) So glad I gave it up – how tedious to be always thinking of One. Diary wasn't kept for very long – you would bring up the bedsit Susan – because I would leave it about & hope other people would write in it, the idea being to start a conversation. Of course we were all in our own spheres & Woman in particular minded my jokes & it was more trouble than it was worth. Then Tom was sent to school & I could write him. Do admit letters are ever so much more satisfying.

Pepys is rolling over in his grave as I write, but all he did was keep a diary. In the arts I mean. Do you notice that someone's genius with words in one medium doesn't carry to others necessarily. Proust's letters and most people's diaries.

Childhood is done in the books & by you too but I do think of my memoirs. If Victor's brother weren't dead now too I should probably never forgive him. All those letters I wrote V. destroyed & me counting on my life's story to support me in my old age. We weren't brought up to amount to anything really Soo & look at us both. Not the thing to talk about, but one can't survive on the satisfaction of writing for its own sake.

Much love Soo




It was also characteristic that once [Nancy's] mind was made up it was very hard to shake her determination to go on seeing things as she wished them to be. This capacity for viewing all her geese as swans is one that should be borne in mind when reading her letters. – Charlotte Mosley