14 Oct 64 : Setting sail : Southampton, UK 

Note: This is the first letter from Tony’s world trip in the 1960s, and it marks the start of a long and life-changing adventure. If you’re new to the blog, you might wish to read the ‘About’ section for some context before diving in! Oh, and welcome 🙂 

RMS Queen Elizabeth, Southampton Docks, 14th October 1964

 Dear Mum, Dad and Nigel,

I expect you will be surprised to have a letter so soon, but the notepaper is free (and very impressive) so I thought I would let you know what’s happened so far. We had a good trip down to Southampton. We got chatting to the two girls on the train, who were joined by a third at Bath. They are going to New York, and staying at the YWCA, and like us have no jobs arranged, so we are not the only crazy ones!!

We all shared taxis at Southampton, and got to the ship at about 4.30. We went through immigration and customs, and went on board at 5pm. We had a wonderful bit of news awaiting us. Due to the chaps at the Cunard office in Bristol (who know Colin) we have been reallocated with a fabulous double cabin (at no extra cost). We have our own bathroom and loads of room. Plenty of cupboard space, and armchairs and fans and a writing desk, carpets, a thermos jug of iced water, and a buzzer to call the steward at any time.

We are now much more towards the middle of the ship, which is much better, as the other cabin was more towards the bows. We went to the original cabin, as our luggage had been taken there, and it wasn’t half so nice. So, all in all we are thrilled.

The ship is gigantic and unbelievably luxurious. We haven’t as yet explored the ship but will do so when we have finished these letters.  At six o’clock we went for dinner and had a sumptuous meal. You can have as many courses as you want, so we made do with five.

There are lots of Americans on board, and they all seem to eat like maniacs, and seem to have no table manners at all. After we left you, we both felt very miserable and neither of us spoke a word all the way to Bath. As soon as the train stopped we charged in and had a whiskey and felt a bit happier then. On the next train the girls joined us, and by the time we had arrived we felt quite cheerful.

I hope you won’t be upset too long after our departure, as we are going to be OK don’t you worry. We are really going to enjoy ourselves, and it will be a wonderful experience which we will never forget, and we want you to enjoy it with us via our letters. I hope you will both look after yourselves, and continue having the gay social life you have been having lately. Don’t forget to write with all the news as soon as you get our address. Will write as soon as we arrive,

All my love, Tony XX

Arriving 20th Oct. at – YMCA William Sloane House, 356 West 34th St, New York.

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