Neil – Mother: 30 Mar 1917

Fri March 30th 1917
Dear Mother,
I have been writing and telegraphing and shifting about so much lately that I am blowed if I know where to start to tell you about our movements.  I am writing this 10 a.m. in the Medical Inspection Office, Featherston with the boss sitting at the next table and not worrying a scrap over the fact that I am not working.  I have extremely easy work here, entering up results of Medical Board’s examinations and attending to the clerical work connected with the men who report sick from camp. The boss is a staff sergeant major who happens to be also a gentleman – a rather unusual case. The work is extremely pleasant, the office is big and warm and bright and I have no slusby (?) work to do – there is a special orderly who does all the sweeping, scrubbing, emptying waste paper baskets etc,  There is every likelihood of the job proving a permanent one til the end of the war – the boss says, but one never knows with these defence people.  Anyway the prospect of spending a number of years in this camp, even with a fairly comfortable job, is not a very pleasant one, because although there is not much discomfort or fear of accidents, there is not much amusement or excitement either.  However I am not going to risk burning my fingers and so I shall just wait on for a while and see what turns up.  I think a hospital ship business managing lieutenant’s (?) job would about suite me, but I am afraid Headquarters is not keen on my having it yet. I get no more pay – only 5s a day. – office boy wages.  The tucker we get now is as good as any 25/-  boarding house.  Three couse meal once a day and a clean plate for each course.  Cheese & jam each meal and porridge & chops or something like that for breakfast.  The only fly in the ointment of the present job is that it is very probable that that I shall lose Easter leave.  Both Norman and I are attached to the Home Service Corps probably indefinitely unless we barrack to be put in a Medical Reinforcement on board a Hosp ship.  Trot is permanent hut orderly for our hut and has practically nothing to do but sit and see that no one comes in and takes our shaving gear.  Trot was telling me that he told you not to send any cake because we had nowhere to keep it.  That’s all dam rot.  We’ve got a hundred places in which we could keep it.  The real reason why he told you not to send any cake yet is that he has smashed his false teeth to bits and cant eat anything hard until he gets a new set in a week or two.  Never take any notice of anything he says.  He has become a frightfully hard case since he came to camp.  It is a frightful job keeping him out of clink.  If any outsiders ask you what we are in now dont say anything about Home Service.  Say we are attached to the Medical Corp and that we do not know definitely yet when we will be going away.  I have received no mail for a week but I expect it will be chasing me around from camp to camp.  By the way, if you want to know what an appallingly clever son you have got, look in the chess column of Sat 24ths Herald or of this last Weekly News.  I have already reached one of those “periods of enforced inactivity” that the editor talks about. 

Charlie Musker is at Tauherinikau about a mile from here, but I have not seen him yet.  The only unpleasant part of the life here is getting up at 5.30 am but I think that is going to stop before long. I have nothing more to say but I might as well go on writing because there is no work to do, and I think the boss likes us to write letters because it looks at first glance as if we might be working, to any doctor who may happen to drop in.

As far as I can understand I shall have two days work a month and nothing to do but keep my buttons polished the most of the time.  I am being supplied with a made to measure tunic from Awapuni.  In coming down from Awapuni  here a 1/6 bottle of ink in my kitbag was smashed with the natural consequence that nearly all my gear is now at the laundry.  Well nothing more