Friday, January 02, 2009

Tuesday 16th March 1943

Jock is not always mischievous. Sometimes he is asleep – but not often. He finally “cooked his goose” this morning by being awake and throwing an ashtray at Ghandi. Apparently an exciting scene then occurred (I was getting the washing) and Ghandi's face was bleeding. “Scotchman Submarine!” explained the delighted Paras eloquently, describing how Jock dived under the beds in an attempt to escape the gore-hungry Ghandi. Subsequently old Paddy evacuated the kennel – and the ward – and Jock was moved back in to his old home. The old monologues by wireless have now recommenced.

There was a disturbance in the middle of the night, too, when the Greek sergeant took his pyjamas off, leapt out of bed and came down the ward shouting “Sister! Sister!” Quite bizarre. He then woke up Paras, telling him to beware, as the Nazi Gestapo was around. And a few minutes later he had been escorted from this ward into the tent with that 'orrible black sergeant. Paras sighed, shook his head, and fell asleep again.

However the number of patients in the ward remains constant, for a young Jew (Jerusalem) has arrived. He looks a bit like a Yugo-Slav prince; in fact he is handsome as Frankenstein (the new nigger) is plug-ugly. I feel well disposed towards Frankenstein though. Just now he shambled up the ward in his usual style and came to a halt beside me. I looked at him benignly. Presently a sort of smile crinkled his face, and he extended a packet of issue cigarettes (Bear's “Honeydew”; deadly) “You,” stated Frankenstein, then turned and filed slowly back to his bed. Bless the boy!

MacAdams at least, reacts according to my initial opinion of him. He says that Greeks, Arabs and Niggers are all the same – bastard wogs. He looks at one and all with disgust and only speaks to British patients. I don't think he's a Regular, but he's a typical wooden, unimaginative soldier.

Chadwick is perceptibly improved and more lively. All through the laundry work this morning, he did not mention his condition except when we were in the clean quiet linen stores and he said enviously, “This is the sort of job that would suit me, y'know. I could hold this down until the end of the war” which struck me as a hopeful sort of remark.

In the afternoon we both went for a stroll with a party of patients under the patronage of the Padre. We went along the riverside, and Chadwick seemed sad but less self-engrossed. He soon became tired, so we sat down by the river while the others went on. (I liked the Padre for letting us stay there in an out-of-bounds area, unwatched without making us give any solemn promises to behave.)

Chadwick got quite enthusiastic in talking about the various dogs he had kept at home, and talked almost with animation.. (I noticed however that all the dogs in the tales met sad deaths) Then he got pretty happy at finding a chameleon. And finally, he looked up the valley suddenly and said, “Come on! We'll pick some flowers. I can see the others coming back.” Yes! He took charge! He began to feel a bit gloomy as we slowly walked back towards the camp however. Now, he seemed to be worrying more about the injections than his prevous troubles. “I don't need 'em, see. Yes, I feel much more light in the head since the first injection. A sort of heaviness has gone. But there's nothing wrong with me except my own worrying... And that injection is a terrible thing. It's like being hit with a sledge hammer... a sudden shock, and you see stars.”

Handsome Harry alias Frankenstein, seems to have taken a fancy to me. He staggered up and made some coy mutterings. “What's he say, B's'kiwi?” I asked Joe Louis. “He say he cannot thank this man.” “Heart full of gratitude aye, Joe?” “Yes! Good!”


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