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Letter from Marian to Lionel on receiving a
Note: Their father WJ Dibdin died on 9th June 1925
20 Bruce Street Toorak Melbourne
June 24 1925
Thankyou for sending the cable. I was glad you did and did not wait for a letter. I feel dreadfully away from everyone here, it’s a terrible distance when one want to be near ones own people as now. I know you will look after mother but I am anxious how she will go on and terribly grieved I can’t help yet. We shall soon I feel sure and things are moving a little now. Write me a line and let me know how things go and if Rex is at all responsible and fit again.
I suppose mother goes on at 31.
Note: Rex was in a state of post traumatic depression after injury in WW1
Note: this would be 31 Idminston Road West Norwood.
One reason I’ve written so little to you and Cecily is because I’ve hoped daily for better news – To be able to give an account of real work doing – something more than promises to tell of. Something to make one write cheerfully and hopefully for the future. So far we are worse off that when we came, but Paul is doing something – always busy at Busts for (£10) friends, Designs or chance commissions that are recalled very often and I have some miniatures to save the situation a bit. Its impossible to describe the life here – you just would not believe it – in face of Australia House & Wembley one would be laughed at. Money goes no where – we pay £3-10-0 for this flat and studio! No inside convenience not done up – no geyser or hot water – a rotten bathroom with rain through roof but a good studio – an old tall room £2-10-0 a week only gets a poor sort of house here so we don’t grumble.
I would not bring anyone out here. English are politically wanted – personally hated. I feel sure there will be a separation one day from the old country (God help Australia).
Your Australian is the most conceited & ignorant person on earth – Their manners in ??? shops etc the rudest I have found in Europe ( England Scotland France Switzerland Germany Italy) !
Their idea is " we don’t want any more ??? over here - the words of a journalists to me !
The English flag exhibited at the Boat Race is "what’s that doing here"! The new Governor is looked at as a Fop in an eyeglass – a person imposed on Australia to give him a job etc. Pommies is a word of contempt – however the propagandist likes to call it a "Pet Name"
English workers in factories fight their way in & frequently get arrested for it.
For one is supposed to come here with a clean reputation & Paul has actually written over to friends and the Royal Society of British Sculptors to write our landlord a character he can circulate to prove he is not a "Blaguard" "Scoundrel" & did not leave England under a cloud. "Why did you come here" everyone says. We have a few real friends but the general lack of faith on part of Architects Artists Government & clients is appalling.
Nothing counts as time unless signed & sealed All the press campaign has done some good but not financially yet. We are hoping to sell a figure to the Town council through Dr.Kent Hughes our landlord and it will help but we won’t be sure for a week yet if the financial committee will stump up. War Memorial not starting yet Committee are collecting 150,000 by getting councils to give yearly sum from Rates for 110 years It may start to be erected in time to educate Adrian to come out & do the Sculpture! So we say but we hope it will start in about a years time.
Miss Self is not happy and had a very rotten voyage The Bay line is a disgrace. The stewards & crew a rough untrained lot. Uncontrolled by the officers for fear of strikes. I did not know – that she had sailed when she was coming & had no time to let anyone know as I did not believe she would come so soon. I paid £12 , she £12 & government 12 but it cost her a lot more for food.
She was tired of waiting for our luck to change ( though next week may settle it) and prefers to go elsewhere anyway! Well she must go!
I hope Cecily is well and Peter and Joan you will all come to meet us one day – I could not face a life here or to bring Adrian up as Australian & practically to disown England. He must get back to be educated in English traditions of honour and integrity and loyalty to say nothing of courtesy and refinement of thought. Thanks goodness you did not bring Peter and Joan out –you would have been terribly disappointed in the schools. The school Nina goes is really the State School the roughest – I can’t afford any other, Bobby goes at reduced fees to a little refined school near. Poor Nina has no music, dancing , drilling or any refinements & a piano at £80-90-100 for a rotten old thing is impossible at present. Had we stayed in England the Artist Fund might have educated here but we hope for better times yet.
Paul goes on slaving for halfpence at all sorts of odd jobs – I have had miniatures to keep pot boiling. And we are getting well known in Melbourne. Unfortunately our English reputation does not count it is "what have you done here" and Doctor Kent Hughes ( one of the chief surgeon specialists here) said " If a great English Doctor was to come out here, I doubt if he could earn a living"!
We are in winter and it is COLD FOG RAIN – but now & again sunshine & it won’t last long. One needs lots of blankets at night. Big log fires & thick clothes Prices may interest you.
Fish – whiting 1/6 lb
Impossible to compare with English but its dear and not nice at all. We can’t eat much of it
Potatoes 10lbs for 1/-
Cauliflowers 1/6 - 2/-
Apples 3-4-5-6d I have paid 8d for eating apples
Bananas 8d-10d- a shilling very bad ones
Oranges 5 a shilling now, have been 4 a shilling
Eggs 2 ½ p have been 3 ½ p
Then baby shoes 10/- Bobbies 12/6 Nina’s 17/-
Wages 8/- a day of 7 hours 9/- for 8 hours & food for a char( I don’t have one) Cooks get £2 a week live in Housemaids & general 35/- a week live in but no one is better off for it.
Wood logs is £2-18-0 a ton very dear.
Electric too – not so bad Taxi cabs just started – awful price 1/6 first mile & 4d every ¼ mile after & it comes to a lot (never take one)
All vegetables expensive to buy – tasteless except onions – too strong
House Rent £2.10.0 for poor bungalow Such a home as yours would be £3.10.0 inclusive at least a week and £1500 - £ 2000 to buy
All shops close on Sat afternoon & 6 every day – late might be of Friday.
No Sunday papers no Sunday cinemas or concerts or anything much – terribly dreary city. Every one has motors cars & tears about. We go to cinema now & then and see a good show chiefly – Thundering Hoofs & ??? ??? ??? but a new cinema is opened near so enjoy good music.
We get a lot of different people in the studio, old Mayors Doctors Journalists Artists Dustmen – people of all kinds – some interested mostly ignorant & amazed. We have a long drawing room full of sculpture & like a little gallery or work & pictures
People are fearfully impressed but rarely leave a commission behind.
We get alluded to as the ‘Paul Montford Pair’ cheek isn’t. We shall be glad when we see all petty debts cleared up & our ‘passages’ in the bank in case! I shall at least.
Must stop now Give my love to Cecily and to Peter and Joan tell them Aunt Marian will turn up one day and be a real Aunt to them if she can. Bobbie does not forget them and Cecily’s kindness to her.
With love to you from
Your loving sister