Doctor Shellswell goes his rounds,
a country gent, complete in his plus-fours -
plus-sixes, now and then - green tweed,
as I recall. As welded to
his Gladstone bag as Charlie to his cap. #1
Attends me when I'm ill, but got it wrong
breathtakingly just once. Pneumonia
and pleurisy. He diagnosed: A flash
in David's pan! But now
we settle for Bronchitis, by and large -
The London smog's what gets the blame.
A keen philatelist - as I . He sits
beside me on my bed, and from
his Gladstone bag takes out
a pocket book of swaps.
We trade before he'll diagnose.
My Grandparents downstairs
grow very anxious as the minutes pass -
on one occasion just beyond the hour -
and still no word of what is wrong
or why it's taking so much time. I think it's Granddad
(mostly) who will pay his frequent bills - although
I saw the doctor once refuse the payment due,
waving it away like dad had got it wrong.
Today we'll visit his large house. It boasts
a waiting room consulting room and surgery
and, newly built, a pharmacy. The latter
is for me the focus of the day. There's one
whole shelf of bottles, meticulously ranked
in differing hues of red and shades of pink.
Pick-me-ups and tonics - put-me-downs,
my granddad says - but none of them for me. For
me, he'll mix my favourite shade before my eyes.
I watch the colours change. He'll be the grand
magician - perhaps they'll even cycle through
a set of hues. He plays it differently for me -
or does he? Something says that Granddad's
in the wings, ringmaster of a sort,
manipulating the performance. Is it just an act?
The Doctor drives an Armstrong Siddeley Saloon -
not only owns a car, but has a garage, too,
a monstrous thing with sliding doors, joined to
the house, though hidden behind trees.
When coming down the steep slope from
the railway bridge, a billowing cloud emerges
from the side road at its foot,
clobbers him amidships, dents a wing.
The billowing resolves itself, becomes
the rather unbecoming garments of a priest:
a cassock and a wild and woolly cloaky thing -
beyond a man's control in a high wind.
Its Father Proberty in priestly garb.
More of him next time.
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