Monday, January 19, 2009

Sunday 26th December 1943

Lay sleepless in bed many hours, hearing Christmas revelry, laughter and singing outside. Feigned slumber each time the night orderly came round. I don't want to be considered unhappy; they might call it “depression: and keep me here the longer!

Breakfast in M3 ward. William told me he'd also heard singing last night – and at the same time very different sounds in his own ward, where a patient was getting beaten and was screaming. Nobby said the same, “Three orderlies dragged him out of bed and took him into the lavatory. We heard the thud of the blows... then he screamed... Aw, Steve, it made me sick! And Xmas night too, and people laughing just outside.” “What did they do it for?” “He was talking in his sleep, that's all.”

A patient gave me 10 fags today, and an orderly sold me 10 more, for 9d. (Someone else having lent me 4/-.) The orderlies here all seem decent fellows. The Corporal i/c promises me parole and a job soon.

4p.m. Grindall and I – and a couple of the others – received our paroles this afternoon! Short stroll in the damp, grey grounds. Smelt grass in my hands. saw many ex-41 men at exercise behind the iron railings of another block. Not so good hobbling around in slippers, but the air – and the wind! - had a good smell.

England seems very drab, dingy and colourless. Even in winter, the Middle East is bright; the skies are vivid and all colours are sharply defined.

Part of this place is, as I thought, a civilian workhouse or asylum. We met many of the wretched inmates, walking alone or in parties with blue-clad attendants. Most were old or middle aged and looked imbecilic.

I have found “Miranda” by ME Braddon; a moth-eaten looking book. A parson's chaste love for the daughter of a lady. Lots of religion, good works and burlesque snobbishness.


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