Sunday, January 04, 2009

Monday 12th April 1943

I am now i/c linen and washing collection and distribution. Yes, i/c, not deputy, as at no.22. I have a Corporal to assist me, too. The magnitude of my responsibility is overwhelming.

Mashobanko is confined to bed nowadays. The poor old boy has worms!

(1982: Worms had caused the mental trouble. He believed an enemy had put a snake inside him.)

I am the interpreter, and also Primary Inspector of his Excreta. Each time he uses the bedpan he reports to me saying “Aaaa,” and pointing to the log. I then have a look at the pan and if there are any bits of worm therein, I hasten to the Sister and announce proudly, “Mashobanko has produced another specimen.” In high glee, the Sister then gloats over the awful mess in the bed-pan, picking it about with forceps. Yesterday, “Look!” she cried, fascinated, “The damn things wriggling!” We are waiting tensely for the head of the worm to appear, now. Incidentally, I am also i/c emptying bed pans, when all the bits of worm have been picked out.

The officer used me this morning to tell Mashobanko what was going on and enquire re symptoms etc. When he discovered that I knew no Bechuana language but was able to convey what was meant by odd words and dumb show – through knowing Mashobanko and his ways – he sloped off abruptly, in disgust!

A surprise this evening. Howe, who was discharged from 22nd General as fit about a fortnight ago, suddenly ambled into the ward with his small kit – an obvious new patient! They had given him mass bullshit as soon as he arrived at his Base, with the result that he'd had a nervous attack, again.

A few minutes later he had been allocated a bed and I (impressively Jack-in-office!) unlocked the linen room door and issued him with trousers, jacket, pyjamas, eating utensils and what not.

This is a miserable, cold day, of heavy rain and high winds, alternately.

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