Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday 6th August 1943

Yesterday I paced up and down 1800 yards – say 1 mile – on the dusty sand outside this building. Today the same. No pay today. No issue of air mail cards. (“Are you chaps from the Palestine convoy?” “Yes!” “Ah, then you don't have any pay.” Bastards and stinkers.)

Purchased 20 Woodbines this afternoon. No need to go to the NAAFI! They were brought in to us. All our meals are served in our “cell” and that's something to be grateful about. It is grand to eat in seclusion and quietness, after the noise and squalor of the Sarafand mess hall – and in fact all Army eating rooms.

This is the Isolation Ward, but it is inhabited by skin cases actually, not fever cases. We're not likely to catch scabies or anything, as we don't come in contact with the other patients.

The night orderly is a pukka mental orderly, who'd been out of a job until we came. He has had a good deal of civilian experience. Rather a “character.”! When we consulted him about our troubles, he said gloomily that there was no cure for schizophrenia. He told William that it would probably be best to go into a mental hospital voluntarily. “Your wife will want to keep you at home,” he said, “But the work will probably be too much for her... looking after you day and night...”
The disease is either hereditary or brought on by syphilis, he added and told me it would be best never to marry.

I told him the MO had said I should soon completely recover and that the trouble had been caused by unsuitability to Army life. The pessimistic orderly dismissed that with a shrug. “Ah! he said that to cheer you up, see? Actually the attacks recur, there's no cure and the cause is always syphilis or heredity.”

However, this quaint orderly does us no harm! On the contrary he makes both Bill and I say to ourselves, “Well, we'll bloody well show 'em either that we're not “split mind” cases or else that complete recovery is possible!”


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