Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tuesday 6th July 1943

The ward is steadily filling. 32 patients, of which 22 are foreigners... One walks down the long row of beds past so many neurotic men, - trembling violently, weeping, glaring defiantly or cowering weakly. It is very distressing indeed.

Store's neurosis has been extended to a fear of smells now. He is constantly crying out, “What a horrible smell! They won't even let me die with dignity!” He notices this smell especially in the dining hall – a smell of death and decay – which hardly improves the appetites of his companions. One good thing is that he's cut down his smoking – partly because he thinks his cigarettes are poisoned, partly because of their “terrible smell.” He leads a nightmare existence because the simplest things now hold a sinister and awful significance or are wrapped in sombre symbolism. He is frightened if the electric lights flicker; or when the walls become warm from the sun; or if someone asks for a cigarette...

“Perhaps they will send me to Cyprus...” he said just now. “Why Cyprus, John?” “Don't you understand? A small island in the Mediterranean, symbolising death.”

It is ghastly here, with Store and other like him. In the mornings the lavatories are nauseating; half these patients haven't the sense or decency to flush the pan after use. The dining hall is rotten too; there is always much noise and people leave their food – not only bread but greasy meat and vegetables – lying al over the tables. I can't bear to go to the canteen...

This hospital has never been worse than it is now.


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