Doreen Hanson’s partial letter extract (Abridged) to her father William Hanson of 80 Newark Crescent, London NW10 - Postmarked March 21st, 1941: 14.37 BDST:
A blithering loudmouth, a real know-it-all type, got thrown out of the Red Cow tonight, dad. You know the pub, it’s the one with the queer-looking ox head on the wall by the door as you walk in. The one with the eyes which follow you around the pub. He was going on and on about how Stalin and Hitler were going to team up and clobber us. “Invade!”, he said, a finger raised up into the air like he was giving a speech down at Speakers Corner.
“Stop your blathering Tommo!”, an old man shouted. Goodness, he didn’t half look like Will Hay standing upright by the bar, with one hand under his braces stretching it out as his voice rose. Oh, the very thought of it! An old lady with a blonde wig on sat next to him shouted as she gasped. It was so funny, dad, like something out of one of the funnies we used to watch down at the Odeon.
He came over all queer he did, all red-faced and flustered, blustering as he took his hat off and mopping at his receding hairline with a white hankie. “You bloody defeatist!”, Will Hay shouted again, letting his brace strap hit his chest, and then pointing as he followed up, “Look! Even your ruddy hair looks defeated!”
Oh, how everyone laughed, dad.
Bless him, they’d all given him such a rollicking, but I couldn’t help but laugh too, as he pulled his white hankie over his thinning ginger hair again. It didn’t half look like a flag of surrender. I thought Will Hay would have been straight in there about it and said the very same, but bless him, he was too busy laughing, bent all over he was.
Anyway, the landlord told Tommo to leave – well, he told him to “B” off, in fact, with an outstretched finger pointing towards the door, like a football referee sending him off the pitch, for causing a fuss. And then that was that.
They’re the queerest folk up here, dad.
But you know what? After he’d skulked off, when the laughter died down, you could tell on everyone’s faces that they were thinking, blimey, what if they did team up and invade?
You don’t think they will, do you, dad?
See you soonest,
Love you lots,