WEEKS 128-129: ANSWERING THE BELLS IS THE WORST PART
Monday 4 to Sunday 17 December 1916
The lack of domestic servants began to plague the Armstrong family yet again towards the end of 1916. While Jess took on the role of cook, butler and housekeeper, Heppie Hepburn went in search of suitable assistance but the results were less than satisfactory. On 11 December, Pat Armstrong surprised his mother and sisters by turning up unexpectedly on extended leave to nurse his right hand which had become affected by blood poisoning and was slow to heal. During the break Pat also braced himself to break off his rushed engagement with Irene Wills. This however brought him face to face with Irene’s outraged guardian, Mrs Curteis. Even with his mother on his side, this was one battle Pat was not at all sure he could win.
Monday 4 December
Zooie and Nitter
Muz got up early & did all the calling, then I got the breakfast. Then did washing up, & lit the fire etc. Ione went up to London by the early train. Got Zooie’s lunch early, & then Muz & I went up to see her off by the 1-30 train, & then we came back in the cab. Zooie is going to Dublin & going to see Nitter on the way through London. Muz got somebody else to take my place at the Dew Drop1, as Heppie was going off to look for servants, so I had to stay here. Tom is up, but not out of her room yet. Started making my cap for the Dew Drop, then Miss Crawford & Miss Robinson came, then Kitty & Capt. MacDiarmid, then Col. MacGregor & Mrs Arnoldi came & stayed for tea, & I had to bring it in! After they went, I finished my cap, then helped Heppie with dinner, & bottles etc. Ione came back by late train.
Tuesday 5 December
Muz called us all again, & brought us hot water etc. I stayed in bed for breakfast. Then Muz went to a Red Cross meeting, & Ione took her in the car. Got lunch ready, & Muz had hers in the smoking room. I polished the hall, & dusted it & the smoking room. Washed up after lunch, then Heppie went to look for servants. Got tea ready & brought Tom’s up. I sent a potato, out of the garden to Mr Penrose. Heppie got a servant to come tomorrow. Heppie strained her ankle while she was out, so can only hobble about. I got dinner ready, & brought it up, & the hot water bottles etc. Wrote to Irene. Ione dined at the Grand. Muz sat in Tom’s room.
Wednesday 6 December
Muz got up & did all the calling etc, then Ione got breakfast. We cleaned & tidied all morning, as we were expecting the servant to come, but she didn’t. After lunch Muz, Ione & Heppie went off in the car to see about the servant, but she had gone to another place! Tom came down to the smoking room, & Maurice came for tea, I brought it in! Mrs Glass & a friend & Miss Crawford & Miss Robinson are collecting at electric theatres today. Some of them brought in their boxes, & Colonel Gordon brought back his envelopes, & we counted them & he helped, afterwards we counted three other lots, so Muz has got over £100 to put in the bank tomorrow. The theatre cheque came yesterday, it was £85-3-6 from Martin Harvey. Ione went out for dinner, Muz & Tom had theirs in the smoking room, & Heppie & I in the scullery, got the hot water bottles up etc, & we went to bed at about 11-30.
Friday 8 December
Tom stayed in bed all day, Muz & I went up to London by the early train, & did a bit of Christmas shopping, & then met Irene at her club & had lunch with her! We left early as she was catching a train. We did more shopping then went to see Mrs de Lisle & came back by the seven train. Heppie had a lovely supper & bath for us, & we were awfully tired. Ione dined out.
Saturday 9 December
Stayed in bed for breakfast. Then did the rooms & washed up etc. After lunch Kitty came round for a bit then I walked home with her, & we met again at the “Playhouse” to collect for the workshop fund. Miss MacGregor & Miss Forbes were collecting before us & they got £1-11-5 & £1-15-12 Kitty got £1-0-10 & I got £2-0-6. We came back at about eight & Kitty went home & I went to the others at the Soldiers’ club.
Monday 11 December
Went down the town in the morning after doing things in the house etc. Then changed & went to the Dew Drop, & at about five Thomas Knox came down to tell me that Pat had suddenly arrived back, so I flew back. He isn’t looking a bit well, & has both arms bandaged. Heppie & I got dinner, & Muz, Tom & Pat had it in the smoking room. Did the washing up etc, & then we all talked, & went to bed at about 11-30.
Tuesday 12 December
Called them all, & brought up the breakfasts etc. Pat & Ione stayed in bed all day. Pat was awfully sleepy & not feeling very well. Mrs Curteis brought Irene down to stay at the Grand, & after tea Muz & I went up to see them but didn’t stay long. Miss Bald & Miss Peacock came to see us, they are down here for a couple of days. Muz & Pat had dinner in his room.
Wednesday 13 December
Did all the calling etc, & brought up the breakfast etc. Ione stayed in bed all day. Pat went up to lunch with Mrs Curteis & Irene & then Irene & he went for a drive & came back here for tea, & Mrs Curteis came too. Got the tea & luncheon ready, & did the washing up. Heppie was out looking for servants, but had no luck. Answering the bells is the worst part as there are so many! Muz, Pat & Tom had their dinner in the smoking room, Heppie & I had it in the scullery!
Thursday 14 December
Muz & I called them all, & brought up the breakfasts etc, did the washing up. Pat lunched with Mrs Curteis at the Grand, then he & Irene went for a drive. Muz & I went to the hospitals, & they called for us & we went to tea with Mrs Curteis, & then Pat dined with them. Ione dined with Lady Raphael & went to the dance. Muz & Tom had dinner in the smoking room, Heppie & I washed up etc, & went to bed at about 12. Pat came up & talked in Muz’s room.
Friday 15 December
Called them all, & brought up the breakfasts. Tom stayed in bed all day. Then Muz, Pat, Irene & I motored over to Tunbridge Wells, to lunch with General Williams, Mrs [blank] was in bed. We stayed there till quite late, & then there was an awful fog, so we had to come back slowly, it was a lovely drive. Muz, Pat & Tom had dinner in the smoking room, then Heppie & I did all the washing up etc, & went to bed at about 10-30. Pat came up & talked in Muz’s room.
Saturday 16 December
Muz & I did all the calling, & brought up all the breakfasts. Irene came round to say good-bye, & Muz & I went to the Manor House2 to do searching work, Pat came back from seeing them off, for a late lunch, & then had it & dinner in the smoking room, washed up etc afterwards, then talked & did a little packing, & went to bed at about 12. Muz went & put Pat to bed, & stayed down there a long time, talking. It was an awfully cold night.
Sunday 17 December
I had to be up early so as to call them, then Muz came down & helped me with breakfasts etc. Pat went off by the 9 train to London, & we went up by the one & unpacked at the York Hotel, Albemarle Street, then went round to the Berkeley for a bit. Pat came back & met us for dinner, & we dined at the hotel. He had been with Irene in the afternoon. We had lovely baths, & went to bed at about 11.
The Dew Drop Inn at Bouverie Road West, which had been established by four Folkestone-based Canadian women. The proceeds of the tearoom were devoted to charities ⇑
Manor House Hospital, where the Armstrongs had volunteered their services ⇑