Dad letters; a 1940s love affair: October 1944

I have posted the second set of letters from my father, Desmond to my mother Barbara under the tab above. Clearly the two lovers were keen on each other, writing in one case after only a couple of days; but there were tensions – Des wasn’t that keen when Barbs told him about her other dates – even then she knew how to prick his ego. He tried a come back – walking home a ‘jane’. ‘Jane’, I think, was a reference to Jane Gay, a popular cartoon character back in those days. She regularly lost her clothes, hence the popularity with young men.
Image courtesy of

Times change and so did Dad. He would be a supporter of NMP3 today. If you haven’t joined yet: please do.
Anyway, back to the letters. Barbara turned 19 on 21st October, surprising Des; that rather emphasises how little they knew of each other at that point. Des also expresses more of his frustration that he was missing the ‘show’, taking a swipe at ‘conschies’. An impatient young man’s reaction and one, in later life, from which he would have cringed. He never did like authority, as is apparent, whether it was school, at home or at work. At this time some of the people he was meeting were trying to persuade him to join Officer Training, given his education but that was the last thing he wanted. He used to recall in later years how he had been asked, later on in his army career, why he hadn’t accepted a commission; he said he replied, ‘I’ve too much self respect’. To give him credit, he told that story against himself, as an example of what an awkward, know all little snot nose (his words) he was back then.

You will see some acronyms cropping up that might be unfamiliar: FAA – Fleet Air Arm; ATC – Air Training Corps. I cannot find out what OCTV is. It looks like a test Barbara undertook; given she was working on trucks the ‘V’ might be vehicle. If anyone has any idea…?

And as for the argument over ‘hot swing’, I imagine that is a reference to swing music. Des loved the Big Band sound and never shifted from that love affair until he fell for Abba – an odd choice given the antipathy to dancing that he mentions here – I remember talking to him about his dancing technique which boiled down to ‘same steps, different speed’.

Ah dancing. Like my fondness for Anthony Trollope and spicy food, I have come to dancing later in life. I can now admit it: ‘my name is Geoff and I love dancing’. The Lawyer and the Vet were been vexed, back in the day (stupid saying; whoever coined it should be shot – like ‘the exception proves the rule’ and ‘early doors’ – sorry, rant over) by my keenness for the Ricky Gervais school of Dad dancing (see the Office if you’re not sure what I mean) – there was I, cutting a few shapes while they cringed in the corner. But since the Textiliste and I started dance classes with we are the coolest 50 somethings on the dance floor. Our cha cha cha is spoken about as far as the end of the road. If you live in South London, join one of Peter’s classes – he makes it so much fun. I know the picture below suggests I’ve ricked my back but really I’m having a great time.


Sorry about that (not the plug, Peter deserves it; but rather going off piste – this is TanGental after all); do check out Dad’s letters. They are really lovely.



About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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