Tigers in the local branch

Wednesday, 31 March

It was exceptionally warm at the university today and I have been grumpy and irritable all day because Leonard will not allow me to cut my hair until the first portrait is finished. I sincerely hope that we finish it before the summer arrives. 

Another postcard from Leonard arrived this morning. The picture on the front is Paul Cezanne’s View from L’Estaque and the message on the reverse made me smile as the tone is reminiscent of the polite but awkward conversations that took place between us in the early stages of our friendship (and his playful sense of humour peeks through in the final line):

‘Fifty-four years ago, I was looking at a reproduction of this painting when a young Hindu clerk in Lloyd’s – (Cox’s & Kings agents) Bank – pointed and said: “My father has the Himalayas at the bottom of our garden…with tigers available in the hills on either side.” The framed print, in a Delhi branch, was a welcome reminder of Europe; and Bernard Shaw’s observation that: ‘British’ India, like the U.S.A., in relation to England, were two nations separated by a common language. Thank you for your friendship – your partikoolarly attentive artist, L.’