Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sunday 11th April 1943

The day began happily. I awoke, before reveille, to find it warm and the window open beside my bed. The first deep breath I took, as I sat up, was saturated with the scent of orange blossom...

During the forenoon, Store, Crew and I went for a walk. At first we went along a monotonous road through dreary lines of Army tents. Eventually however, this ended and we recklessly turned into a wide track that went into the midst of the orange groves. (This innocent excursion was a crime of course, in the eyes of the Army.) Subsequently we had a charming walk among the bushes of oranges, lemons and grapefruit, which had a much more soothing effect than dashing about the ward, tidying up. Somewhere in the middle of the grove, we sat down on a grassy bank and smoked our pipes – and talked to an Arab urchin who appeared with two donkeys – one of which was obviously pregnant.

Eventually we strolled on in desultory fashion, and found the road again. The inmates of 37 were there (watched by a gang of orderlies) playing football or sitting on the grass. Jock Farrell was enjoying himself, dashing madly to and fro after the ball. We sat down awhile with Hamad and Rampelli M'swani, until it was time for them to march back for dinner.

The afternoon was not so good however. I was interviewed by the ward MO, a bitter, sneering type of officer. He appeared to have the fixed idea that I was a) trying to get posted back to Blighty or else b) trying to get myself a Base job. Anyway he tried to force me to say I wanted to go back to the 104th RHA. And started shouting at me and snapping out smart, sneery questions. He probably does it to everyone, actually, and thinks it a pretty brilliant system. (“Yes, old man, I know how to give those bloody malingerers a shaking-up!” sort of thing.) It didn't achieve much with me, though, for I dislike this superior, bullying attitude, and it upsets me.
Funny, how different the method of this officer, from the four doctors I had seen before!

Subsequently he quietened down, although he was still in a hell of a hurry. He dismissed me abruptly and I asked the usual weary question - “But what is going to happen to me?” “We'll see” he said vaguely, “At present you're not well.” If he thinks I'm not well, why does he shout at me?

In the evening, Store, Crew and I took another criminal walk – this time through an English-looking meadow of field peas, celandines and clover. Delightful.
The other two are being sent down to the farm which is an annexe of this hospital, where they will be in soothing surroundings, away from irritating influences. Presumably I am too mad to be sent to the farm! I must stay here and be driven madder still!


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