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Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)]. Dec 9 Dearest Mother. Your letters haven't come yet this week, but the mail is late and I daresay they will turn up. I got Father's letter of Nov 2 after writing last week and a splendid long one from you, Nov. 1. I don't know how you have time to write when you are so busy but I'm very grateful. Your new secretary doesn't sound a great support. I'm longing to know what's behind the Cabinet upheaval - is it well or ill? On the whole I prefer the devil I know, but then I can't tell what he has been up to. The winter isn't really very nice here. One is usually sneezing, when not coughing and one wishes one had a nice warm comfortable place to sit in. To think that I was once clean and tidy - ! however those are things of the past. I've been busy with a long memorandum, about the whole of our central Arabian relations, which I've just finished. It will now go to all the High and Mighty in every part. One can't do much more than sit and record if one is of my sex, devil take it; one can get the things recorded in the right way and that means I hope that unconsciously people will judge events as you think they ought to be judged. But it's small change for doing things, very small change I feel at times. Sir Percy has gone up river; I'm always sorry when he is away. We have had one or two spashes [sic] of rain, not much yet. I often motor out into the desert with the I.G.C. in the late afternoon and have a little walk there before sunset when the desert is always very beautiful, even though it is only a flat stretch of hard mud outside Basrah, not real nice desert. But I have felt unergetic [sic] and haven't ridden much before breakfast as I ought to do really. Roumania is a bad business and Greece not much better - we have a long time before us yet. In spite of a certain amount of discomfort here, I feel I'm escaping the real pinch of the war which you are having at home. I don't see the men go - and not come back - nor the gardens falling into wastes, nor realize the difficulty of tackling high prices and shortage of labour. It hadn't begun a year ago - I wonder what it will be like a year hence? But I shall still be here, I suppose, and I shan't know much about it except from your letters. Maurice will have to go back some day - it's marvellous that he has been kept out of it for so long. You did order me some shoes from Yapp didn't you? Nothing comes. I can't remember if I wrote to you or to them asking them to send the bill to you. Brown buckled shoes, black ditto and some patent leather shoes, I think. It's amazing how difficult life is when one can buy absolutely nothing. That's why I have to be such a bother to you.
Tell Father I'm not aware of anything striking in the way of zymotic disease here, bless him. Egypt's always putting on quarantines - it's a habit. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude