8th July 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Well here I am at last, I expect you have all been wondering what I have been doing with myself since I left Singapore. Well to start from the beginning, we left Singapore on June 23rd, with the “Theseus”, “Contest” and “Cockade” in perfect weather all looking forward to our “Aussie” cruise. On Tuesday we “crossed the line” and of course had to have the traditional crossing the line ceremony. The day before they erected a large canvas water tank on the flight deck with a tip up seat just jutting over the water. Then at roughly nine in the morning King Neptune and his “court” assembled on the flight deck and after the initial “proclamations” and “warrants” were read out the fun commenced. The “wild bears” were then let loose and all jumped into the water tank. Then the courts “barbers” and “policemen” prepared to carry out their “Majestic” orders. The first “arrest” was the skipper who was “decorated” for distinguished service during wartime and also for bringing so many “novices” down to Neptune’s court for passing out. He was given the “high order of the airborne sea-dog”. The next was the commander who was charged with driving the seamen to such an extent by making them “turn to”, “turn out”, “turn about” etc. that they were so mixed that they couldn’t tell their left from their right. For this “scandalous conduct” he was ordered to be “shaved” by the “barber” and thrown to the “bears”. The shaving soap was a big bucket and he was slapped all over with a big paint brush till he looked like an advertisement for Rinso. Then he was shaved by a huge cut throat razor about four feet high and finally thrown to the bears who gave him a good ducking. Of course the antics of the court and the “bears” had everyone roaring their heads off. Actually the ceremony lasted about two hours and all the “novices” were thrown to the bears. I was excused as I had crossed the line before but all the same I took no chances and kept well out of the way while the quest for victims was on.

The following day we hit rough weather and it kept on all the way down to the bottom corner of Australia. We were all dreading crossing the Australian Bight which is their equivalent of the Bay of Biscay, but much to our surprise it was “like a millpond” and it was so calm that we had flying all the way across. Well so much for our trip down, now for our reception in Adelaide.

We arrived in Adelaide on Friday about ten, just previous to entering the harbour we flew off ten “Firefly”s and ten “Seafires” who gave an exhibition of formation flying and ‘aerobatics’ over the city. When we tied up on the jetty there were quite a large number of people waiting there. The ship was soon swarming with press photographers and news reporters. The weather was very cold but quite bright. I went ashore at dinner time and we spent most of the afternoon looking around the city. It is a fair sized city about the size of Coventry I should say, but not as closely populated. It is fairly quiet and there is not really much entertainment except for dancing or pictures. The nickname for the city by the way is the “city of churces”. At night it soon got bitterly cold so we decided the best thing we could do was to take a trip to the pictures. The pictures we saw were “King of the Lumberjacks” and “Captains of the Clouds” with James Cagney. They weren’t particularly good pictures but it was at least warm. After the pictures we all got beds at the Y.M.C.A. and turned in early. On the Saturday I was duty watch and was detailed a guide to the visitors that came on board so I had a busy time explaining as much about the ship and its equipment as I was allowed to. Sunday Ken R. and myself went on an outing arranged by the Royal Naval Friendly Society, and went to the National Park for a picnic and games. At night we were entertained to a social and a supper. Monday we had an invitation to a private home where we had an evening by the fireside talking about England etc. They came from Bristol many years ago. Today I played for the “Glory” 1st IX hockey versus Adelaide University as goalkeeper. It was strange to us playing on a damp pitch but we soon settled down to a ding dong struggle. At half time we were losing by one goal to nil. Soon after half time we equalised but University soon gained their lead with a break away goal. We pressed back and again equalised from a short corner. After that it was University but we managed to hold out until five minutes from time when the right half accidentally turned the ball past me and the final game finished at that score, 3-2.

We are leaving here tomorrow for Melbourne with “Contest” as our escort destroyer. We are due to arrive on Friday morning with the rest of the fleet – “Theseus” and “Cockade”.

I expect you have received my letter or rather envelope with the newspaper cuttings in. Every day there is something in the papers about the activities of the “Glory” or the ships company so you can guess we are getting quite a fair amount of publicity on this cruise. On the trip down to Melbourne we are taking seven news reporters, photographers and wireless agents which are broadcasting two or three times daily programmes entitled “Life on the Glory” etc, so it looks as though we shall be even more in the news at Melbourne.

Well Mom, I am afraid I shall have to sign off now as it is nearly suppertime so until next time,
All my love as always,
Graham
Be seeing you soon.
xxxxxxx
xxxxxx
xxxxx
xxxx

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19th June 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few lines in reply to your very welcome letter that I received yesterday. You certainly have been having a “hot spot” of weather recently, I can understand how difficult and uncomfortable it would be for you to sleep. I mean  out here I sleep on a camp bed with just a pair of pants on and nothing over me and invariably in the open air which is a lot more different to sleeping indoors on a feather bed.

Glad to hear that you have more or less got straight again after the plumber etc. had been in. Still its worth it just to get the house dry again isn’t it!

I am writing this while we are at sea on our last exercises before proceeding to Australia. We are out for two days, returning to Singapore tomorrow night. We are out mainly for flying exercises but we are also giving the main engine a thorough test. When we return tomorrow we stay in the dockyard until Sunday and then we move round into Singapore Roads and anchor there until Monday morning when we sail with the “Theseus”, “Contest” and “Cockade”. I suppose we have “had our time” for another run ashore here this time not that I am really worried, the only thing I really go ashore for in a place like this is just to break the monotony.

I didn’t find out who sent me those books although I have thought out the likely solution. Perhaps my label and “X”s label came off – mine off the football papers and his off the books. Then the labels were put on the wrong parcels and I got his books while “x” got my football papers. Still I’ll enclose the chit and see what you think!

Its funny you mention Granny C. as only last Sunday I was in two minds whether to write to her or not but in the end I decided to leave it to “Aussie” as I didn’t think it was worth writing to her about Singapore as there is nothing really interesting to talk about especially on a refit. So if you see her, tell her I shall be writing from Adelaide probably.

To tell you the truth I haven’t heard from Roy at all this year, he never was a regular writer but he has created a record spell this year. It must be “girl trouble” I should imagine. Jess O. is about my only source of village gossip nowadays as Dorothy H. hasn’t written for ages. Mr W., the youth club leader drops me a line now and again with Youth Club news, while Wilf A. and Frank R. give me all the works “gen”.

Glad to hear Dad is still doing very well at tennis. I should say that was a very good performance beating Bourneville on their ground as they have a strong sporting reputation haven’t they. We haven’t had so much lately just a couple of games of hockey and one at football. The hockey was for the ships team and we lost both of them by the same score 2-1. At football I played for the “Conscripts” versus “Regulars” in a return match to when we beat them 3-1. We hadn’t got our strongest side out as three of our men were playing for the ships team and everyone expected us to lose. Still we upset the critics and beat them again this time by 2 goals to 1. I was Captain for the game and played in goal again.

Talking of sport all the topic here lately has been about the visiting Chinese team – Sing Toa Football Club. They have visited the Philippines and they have played three games here all without defeat. They are visiting England shortly so keep me notified how they get on will you. They come from Hong Kong and I have seen them quite a few times and you can take it from me they’re “hot stuff”. In the Philippines they played six winning them all with a goal aggregate of 27 goals for and 2 against. In they three games they have played here they have scored 13 goals with 6 against. They beat the Combined Services 5-1, the Combined Civilians 5-2 and drew against the Combined Chinese 3-3. There was some excuse for that however as they arrived by air from the Philippines in the morning and turned straight out and played in the afternoon. In my opinion they will come unstuck in U.K. as their centre half plays an attacking role and leaves quite a gap down the centre. Of course he might change his tactics then but you can see what I mean by the fact that out of 8 goals scored against them on their town seven of them have been netted by the opposing centre forward.

Well Mom I am afraid I shall have to close now as it is five minutes off “lights out” so until next time,
all my love,
your loving son,
Graham
xxxxx
xxxx
xxx
xx
x

13th June 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Well here I am again with a few more lines to let you know that I am still keeping pretty git and in the best of health. We have practically finished our refit now and the rest of the time here we shall be cleaning up the ship in preparation for our “Aussie” cruise. We have moved back on board again now after nearly two weeks in the barracks ashore, “Terror”. Our mess-deck has been painted in a light green and cream colour scheme and it looks very nice now.

We are leaving here in ten days time for Adelaide so you can guess we are all anxiously waiting to get up steam and get away from here. Still I can at least state definitely that this is my last cruise out here and then the ship heads for home. Actually we are going out before the twenty third, on two days flying exercises and general manoeuvres, so that will be a change and help to pass the next days away more quickly.

By the way what is the mail getting through like in England, it is pretty grim out here just lately, I haven’t had a letter from anyone for a week, the only mail that seems to come on board is from “Aussie” so of course it means nil for me. Still it is only slightly over three months and mail won’t worry me then.

What did you think of Freddie Mills and Jack London both getting beat recently, it certainly seems as sport has “gone to the dogs” recently doesn’t it. I see in the paper that they have been criticising the way Bruce Woodcock was handled in his Baski fight. It said that any second with an atom of “savvy” would have thrown the towel in the towel at the end of the second round or the third at the latest.

What happened to Hutton and Dollery in the Test, they certainly didn’t show up like world beaters did they. It’s a good job that we’ve got chaps like Edrich, Comption, Yardley and Evans it strikes me. I should think that Pope will get his chance again after his performance of 13 wickets for 50 runs against Somerset. Hollises also did fairly well in South Africa’s first inning.

Have you seen any good pictures lately? On board tonight we are having “Great Expectations” with John Mills and Valerie Hobson, so I shall go and see that. Other films I have seen recently are “Scariest Street” with Edward G. Robinson, “Utah” with Roy Rogers, “Cluny Brown” with Paulette Goddard and “The Fleets In” with Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton. They are all pretty old films but I had only seen “The Fleets In” and I had more or less forgotten the story.

How are you going lately with your heat waves and hail storms. They had a hail storm in Aussie at the beginning of the year with hail stones as big as tennis balls. Hundreds of windows were broken and several old people were killed.

I haven’t been doing so well at sport lately, actually we have been toppled off our perch at the top of the league and we lost two matches in five days. Still to soften the blow the runners up also lost one so we are now following them with one point difference in our totals and we have still to play them so we are still hopeful. On Wednesday we again lost this time at hockey, I played in goal for the ships team against the cruiser H.M.S. “Sussex” and we were beaten by three goals to two.

We had a big draft of ninety nine ratings come on the ship yesterday. They had all just come out from U.K. and have about four months to do before they get demobbed so have been sent out here for the rest of our commission. Lucky devils coming on at a time like this with an “Aussie” cruise ahead. Most of them haven’t left England before.

Well Mom I think that’s just about the lot once again so until next time
All my love as usual
Graham
x x x x x
x x x x

P.S. Be seeing you soon.

24th April 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Just a few more lines to let you know I am still O.K. and in the best of health. At the moment of writing we are at sea on five days exercise with the East Indies Fleet but we return to Trincomalee tonight about six. There are seven ships out altogether, the cruisers “Jamaica” and “Glasgow”, carriers “Glory” and “Theseus”, destroyers “Contest” and “Constance” and the oiler “Green Ranger”. We have had quite a lot of flying, making attacks on the cruisers and “Theseus” and on the airfield ashore which has been defended by the R.A.F. We haven’t had any crashes yet this trip but yesterday one of the flight deck hands got killed by the wing of a plane which caught him as the plane was landing. He was killed instantaneously so at least he didn’t suffer. Last night they had his funeral service and he was given a sailor’s burial. He was only eighteen and only joined the ship a couple of months ago. It shook the pilot up pretty badly but of course he couldn’t be blamed as of by rights the lad shouldn’t have been on the flight deck when planes are landing on.

I received two papers and your letter dated 11.4.47 on Monday, we had our own mail brought out to us, which was quite a surprise as we had all resigned ourselves to the thought that tomorrow would be the first chance we would have of getting any.

Glad to hear you have been having a decent drop of weather at last. I see the Navy has started wearing summer dress in U.K. which is an omen. I hope it is at least a little milder when I get home.

I haven’t seen “Frenchman’s Creek”, as a matter of fact I have only seen one film worth mention in the last week or so. That was “Night and Day” with Gary Grant as Cole Porter and Alexis Smith as his wife. It is the story of the life of Cole Porter and I really enjoyed it. Have you seen it? On board tonight is “A Matter of Life and Death” which I shall probably see tomorrow.

I haven’t played cricket since I last wrote as the weather hasn’t been too good lately. Last Friday I played hockey for the ship against “Jamaica” and we beat them 3-1. They have started an inter fleet knock out competition at hockey and football. The “Glory” won their first round of the hockey against R.N. ashore, that is the Dockyard, by 5 goals to 4. I didn’t play in that as I was duty watch and couldn’t get a sub.

Sorry to hear about Jean missing the biology practical exam again. Still as you say she is still young so perhaps next time she’ll manage it O.K.

What did you think of Bruce Woodcock the other night, I bet he was in agony the last six rounds. Still he’s proved that he can ‘take it!’ I expect he will be out of the ring for a few months now won’t he? Still apart from that I think Baski was too good for him. I bet the Baski-Louis fight will be a thriller.

Well Mom I think that once again that is about the lot so until next time
All my love
Graham
x  x  x  x  x  x

7th April 1947

Dear Mom Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again with a few more lines in reply to your very welcome letter dated 29.3.47 that I received on Saturday. I was beginning to wonder when we were going to get any mail again as the ship hasn’t had any for a week. I suppose it is the bad weather that has been delaying it as usual. Talking of mail we have got to start paying for our mail again starting from May 1st which will be a bit of a nuisance especially getting near pay day. Still I shan’t have to put up with it much longer at any rate, I hope.

I still haven’t heard anything really definite about when the ship is going home but the dates we have got up to now are
May 10th leave Trincomalee
” 16th arrive Singapore
June 7th complete refit
” 20th leave Singapore
” 26th arrive Hong Kong
after that we are still doubtful but I think it is safe to say that another two or three weeks on top of that and the ship should be on its way home. While we are here in Trincomalee two or three days every week will be used up in flying exercises so it will all help to pass the time more quickly.

I have started another sport now, sailing. We have had a cutter out a couple of times during the last week finishing up with a dip in the sea. It is surprising really how fast you can travel when there is a good breeze blowing. I am also getting along fine with my swimming. The other day I learnt how to float on my back and am getting quite used to the idea now. I have only had one hockey match since I last wrote, versus H.M.S. “Glasgow”, who we managed to beat 3-1. I have had another couple of games of cricket for the ships team, one against H.M.S. “Highflyer”, the shore base who previously hadn’t lost a match this year. Luckily we had our full side out and rattled up 140 for 9 decl. against them. I scored 24 run out, we then dismissed them fairly easily for 51. The other match vs 16th Carrier Air Group (maintenance parties attached to the carriers out here), we ran up 91 of which I got 11 again run out, and dismissed them for 36. Today I am playing football versus the Supply in the “Glory” football league. Stokers “A” at the moment stand in the fourth place with a match in hand so if we win today it should bring us up into second place.

Glad to hear Mickey is getting over his “raw” deal over the winter. I expect he is a little happier now that the snow has gone isn’t he?

I have been seeing plenty of pictures as usual recently though none really outstanding. Last Monday we had Olivia de Havilland in “Dark Mirror”, Thursday we had Mickey Rooney in “Love Laughs at Andy Hardy” and yesterday when I was ashore with Ken R. I saw James Cagney in “13, Rue Madeleine” which was a story of American Secret Service during the war. Being American it was naturally a bit far fetched. Tonight on board we have a good film, “The Killers” I can’t remember who is in it at the moment but according to the lads who have seen it, it is very thrilling and exciting. So i don’t suppose I shall be able to recommend it to you!

Well Mom I think that is about all I shall be able to manage at the moment as our boat for football teams leaves in half an hour & I want to get a swill before I leave,
So for the time being,
All my love,
Graham
x x x x x
x x x x x

18th March 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

I expect you have all been wondering what has happened to me and why I  haven’t written for a week. Well I am still at Bombay but I haven’t felt much like writing what with one thing and another. At the moment we are out on the combined exercises with the Army and R.A.F. It is quite a ‘large do’, just like the real thing, the “Jamaica” and “Couvery” put up a naval bombardment about five this morning followed by an air attack on the “enemy” positions, which are held by the 16th Leicestershire Regiment. Then at dawn the landing craft went in and put the Koops ashore under air cover by the “Glory”‘s squadron. Later on this morning our squadrons will be attacking various ‘military objectives’ ashore and the whole area ashore should be ‘captured’ by D+13 hrs tonight (6p.m.). In charge of defensive operations ashore is the S.E.A.C. Civil, General Claude Auchinleck, Monty’s predecessor in North Africa. We shan’t be staying out all day as after noon there is no need for aircraft so we shall return to Bombay just after dinner.

I have only had one run ashore in Bombay yet, but I have been ashore three or four times playing hockey. It is quite a decent place, plenty of good pictures ashore, some quite new such as “Great Expectations” and “London Town”, two or three swimming baths, big eats and plenty of sports fields. There is hardly anything to give you any idea that the Indians were fighting each other a few weeks ago. When I went ashore I spent the afternoon swimming at the Breach Candy swimming baths, which is European only. At night we had a walk around doing a bit of shopping. I was quite laden when I got back on board.

At hockey we haven’t been doing too well. I have had three games for the ship’s teams during the last week. Last Sunday we played against an Indian Navy XI and lost by two goals to one. On Wednesday I played for the ships second XI against the same team and they really went to town and thrashed us five-one. Friday I played again for the 1st XI against the Leicestershire Regiment and they also beat us 3-0, finally Saturday I played goalkeeper for the Engine Room XI versus Communications in the ships knockout competition and we won this 2-0. I think we stand a very good chance of winning this as besides myself seven other members of the team play for either the 1st or 2nd XIs, so we have quite a good side.

We are staying here at Bombay until Thursday night when we go out again, back to Trincomalee I should think that we should be able to find out something more about the ships movements then.

By the way, I was listening to a radio programme from Radio S.E.A.C. Ceylon two or three nights ago and they broadcast a special notice to all “Brummies”. Mr George Blackmore, the “Gammont” cinema organist has offered to play requests for forces in the Far East for their relatives back home. He also offers to notify the people back home of the time of playing the request and the message. There were about a dozen times to pick from and I chose “Constantly” so probably you will be hearing something from him in a day or two. It was about Tuesday when I wrote to him.

I bet Colin was pleased that the doctors wouldn’t allow him to go back to camp when he came home. Still all the same he wouldn’t get so much of enjoyment out of it being on the sick list would he.

I was surprised to hear of Uncle Fred dying. I didn’t know he was all that ill. It is a good job for Aunty Nan that her children are all working and can look after her, isn’t it.

As you say, Ceylon is certainly a beautiful place but I’m afraid that we don’t look for beautiful countryside scenery when we are ashore. Ninety nine sailors out of a hundred when they go ashore look round for the nearest cafe for ‘big eats’. After that they usually have a look around for a picture house or a dance hall I usually choose the ‘flicks’.

Talking of pictures we have a good one on board tonight. Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman in “Spellbound” which I shall probably see. The other two pictures we have had during the last week haven’t been particularly good, Googie Withers in “Rink String and Sealing Wax” and Mickey Rooney in “National Velvet”. Have you seen any of them?

I have just been told that I am playing hockey again for the ship’s team vs the “Small Ships” in the harbour. There are about eight ships in here so they should be able to get a fair side out.

Well Mom, I am afraid I can’t think of anything more to say at the mometn so I will sign off once more until next time
All my love as usual
Graham
x  x  x  x  x
x  x  x  x

10th February 1947

Dear Mom, Dad & Jean,

Here I am once again to thank you for the very welcome letter that I received on Saturday. We are back in harbour once more after three days at sea, last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and at the moment are alongside the wall which certainly makes it better for going ashore with no liberty boats to catch. I don’t think we are doing any more manoeuvres now until the 18th when we leave for Trincomalee and Bombay.

I am glad you liked the photos that I sent you, also my mates, “Blue” F. was my mate then, and I used to always go ashore with him, but I think I told you in an earlier letter that he has since gone on draft to England. He went on the “Empress of Scotland” and I believe was due to reach Liverpool today, so I bet he is doing a “little” shivering. Ken R. who is my latest mate comes from Tyseley and is quite a decent chap. Neither of them drink which is rare to find out here. Most “matelots” have a “couple of wets” when they go ashore which is not too bad, but there are always quite a few don’t know when to stop.

I am glad I never started in England because taking it all round, none chaps out of teen who get in to trouble in the Navy owe it to being drunk. My mess is not too bad though, so I am really lucky. Mind you I am not exactly strict T.T. as I now draw my tot of rum every day, it can’t do me any harm as it is well watered down to 2 parts of water to 1 of run. In any case you’d be surprised the number of favours you can get done by the promise of “half a tot”, so it comes in handy at times.

You certainly are having a stiff winter this time aren’t you. In this morning paper it says that 10″ of snow fell yesterday, Sunday, in some parts of England and Wales, also that in the Midlands and North West, a 100% cut in industrial fuel starts from today. Shinwell is certainly taking a battering from the Press. Talk about the biter bit, he was always one of the leading lights against the Tories and their lack of power and ideas. Now he’s at the receiving end.

Weren’t there a lot of cancellations in the football. Still I see Birmingham really “went to town” against Manchester City, it’s a good job they did as there are three Manchester chaps on my mess and I should never have heard the last of it if Manchester had won, especially as all the week I had been saying – “What a shame, poor Manchester getting knocked out at this stage” and each time I said it I got howled down. Still I’ve got the last laugh.

Talking of sport, I am at last beginning to make a name for myself on board here. Apart from playing football for the “Stokers” I now play hockey and cricket for the “Engine Room Department” teams. Engine Room includes all the Petty Officers, Chiefs and Antificers, and Engineers so it is quite an achievement. At Cricket I play Wicket Keeper, yesterday we played against the “Bermuda” Engine Room Department. They beat us but it was very close, we scored 115 runs of which my share was twelve, and they got 127 runs. Behind the stumps I only managed to stump one and there were five extras. Incidentally the one I got out was second highest score for them with 35. At hockey I am the only stoker in the team, the rest being Petty Officers and Officers with one Leading Stoker. I play goal as usual, I have only had one game so far which was against the “Venerable” which we won 3-1. We are playing again on Wednesday, I believe, against the Bermuda. By the way I forgot to say that I received an “Argus” and “Blue Nail” yesterday which is the first football papers I’ve had addressed to the “Glory”.

You asks if the “Glory” is one of the new carriers, well she is not exactly new, but then again it was only April ’45 when she was first commissioned which is only two months longer than the “Trafalgar”. Our sister ship the “Venerable” is leaving for U.K. on February 18th, so you might see her on the news at the pictures when she arrives as she is sure to get a big welcome. When we arrive home we shall probably get a bigger one as we are senior carrier out here so when we arrive it will certainly be ‘quite a do’. By the way did I even tell you, the Jap surrender in New Guinea and all the Southern Islands was signed on board us.

Have you been to the pictures lately? I notice the Yanks are sitting up and taking notice at a few of our films lately aren’t they. I have seen a couple of good ones over the weekend. On board on Saturday I saw Stewart Granger, Jean Kent and Ann Crawford in “Caravan”. It was definitely a well acted film and had a good story to it but all the same it wasn’t my choice of type. The one that I saw last night though, I really did enjoy, I expect you have at least heard about it. John Garfield and Lana Turner in “The Postman Always Rings Twice”. There has been quite a few arguments in the British press about it, and the Yanks have been criticising “The Wicked Lady”. Both with the argument that they were suggestive.Well I have seen both of them now, and I admit the “Wicked Lady” was rather close, but as for “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, well I think it was well ‘within limits’ and the story is definitely plausible and could take place in everyday life. Still your ideas may be different to mine. Last Thursday I saw Joan Leslie, my heart throb, in “Rhapsody in Blue” the story of the life of George Gershwin. Despite Joan Leslie, though, I didn’t think it was much to talk about.

I had a letter from Mr W. of the Youth Club, about last Wednesday. He told me that the village is pretty well deserted now of young lands. I get Roy is lost for want of mates. I bet you can’t guess who is the new chairman, or rather chairwoman, of the Youth Club – Dorrie T., of all people. What a change from the last three – Ken D., Roy and John D. Can you imagine her conducting a monthly meeting?

Well Mom I think I have finished with all the news once more so for the present
Bye bye, and all my love
Graham
x  x  x  x  x  x
P.S. I liked the photo of Jean that you sent me!

P.P.S. So did the lads!!
x  x  x  x