As you know I am still studying the letters of Colonel
Thomas Golbourne Parker (TGP), and probably will be for the rest of my life –
he has got hundreds, if not thousands of letters!
I’ve recently found an interesting letter from a man called J(?) Ducker of Madworth in Derby. He mentions several things and flits from subject to subject with no apparent connection. First he asks TGP if he is in Aldershot and acknowledges the “weather will try you sadly”. But then he goes on to tell of an author, “Galton the author of ‘Helps in Travelling’ gives practical advice for dealing with bad weather.” ... “I met with a valuable suggestion of his which in your exposed position you may occasionally find useful. If you are caught in heavy rain and wish to keep your trousers dry, take them off and sit upon them. In Abyssinia travellers do this commonly. The plan might be adopted on a Yorkshire fell – but what is to keep the shirt dry I wonder?”
Dear reader, I hope you will not take up this advice for behaviour in
the rain. Flashing is not considered polite in today's society, certainly not
in England, (I’m not sure about Abyssinia) and could get you arrested. You have
Ducker then goes on to tell of a wager that took
place, where two Yorkshire men, one aged 62 and one aged 73 set out to walk
from Whitewell (near Browsholme Hall) to Preston and back again for a wager of
£5. (£598.50p in today's money!) Ducker writes, “62 gave in when he reached
Whitewell but 73 set out again immediately for Preston and did the whole
journey in 9 hours and 1 minute”. Now there’s a challenge. Could anyone beat
that record that was written about in Victorian England?
He then says he is “growing more anxious for more news
about the war (Crimean) and asks TGP for his opinion asking whether he thinks
“the Russian people will be tired out soon”. Ducker then changes topic again by
suggesting that Browsholme Hall would look better if TGP planted a little ivy
on the side of the house. Ducker then tells of his visit to a Mrs Mundy who
“prevents me from going dead,” he claims “but she comes a little too far
forward sometimes and then I’m obliged to tread on her toes”.
He then asks TGP “How do you spend your days in
Aldershot and in soldiering? The state of things among you is a mystery”. And I
think that sums the letter up! On reading his letter, things are indeed a
mystery as he changes subject so rapidly! I wonder what I’ll find next time?