Letters home, 2001, Nov 23

23 November 2001

Dear Mum and Dad

Just a very short note to let you know that my contract has been extended to end of March 2002.  We are both very pleased because some of the contractors did not get their contracts extended, and since there is an increasing number of permanent staffers on the helpdesk team, accenture’s need for contractors is becoming less.  I’m a bit lucky, I think, but I’m also really pleased because it shows that accenture/Sainsbury’s values my work..

We have recently moved to the Union St building, so we are only a couple of hundred metres from the house where Mum’s grandmother, Helen Hinkley, grew up.  I noticed that she also called herself Helen Brenda Hinkley, so no doubt that’s where Mum’s mother’s name came from.  Isn’t it interesting the things you find out?  I have also been stalking the streets and the place is CROWDED with little Victorian terraced cottages and dark brick 3-storey buildings that used to be warehouses, still with their lifting tackle attached, often painted blue or red to decorate the building in its new guise as an office block. It’s a very interesting neighbourhood, but it must have been extremely dark, damp and dismal for Helen and her family.  

The bricks are all a uniform dark brown, almost black, there’s the London-Dover railway overhead making lots of noise and smoke, there are all these Victorian buildings with two coal fires (living room and kitchen stove) belching smoke, there’s the constant noise of horse-driven vehicles taking goods from the river to the warehouses and the strong stink of all the horse manure on the roads.  Add to that the houses would be very warm, that the neighbourhood is historically an area of thieves, footpads and prostitutes and it may not have been all that desirable a place to grow up in …  It’s an interesting place, now, because it’s relatively safe and has been opened up quite a bit by some modern developments, but we still get asked to keep to the lighted streets at night and not to walk along talking into the cellphone because you then become a target to a pick-pocket or a phone-thief.

Thank you VERY much for your Christmas card for us and for Ivor – we’ll give him his this weekend when we see him – and thanks for the lovely letter inside. We are planning to go to Paris in the Eurostar next weekend and hoping for a week’s holiday somewhere – anywhere – in Europe for a week near Christmas, in Elaine’s school hols.

Be careful, be happy. Big kisses for Mum.

Lots of love  Ewart and Elaine.