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Monday, 23 April 2012

Suburban Village #2 : R.T.A.

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.
..........................................................................




11 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

Wonderful evocation - so descriptive. I am still wondering whether itt is prose or poem Dave- perhaps a bit of both. Look forward to more

The Elephant's Child said...

I am enjoying this. Thank you so much. Snippets from my own past, and from the English rural memoirs I read with such pleasure.

Mary said...

I enjoyed learning about the philatelist doctor who wanted to 'trade' before he would diagnose. I like the individual details you mention about people you write about!

jabblog said...

'In those days' doctors had a certain mystique. I can see your doctor so clearly. His bedside manner sounds impeccable.

Laurie Kolp said...

Doctors like that are a dime a dozen. Thanks for sharing your words with us, Dave!

Brian Miller said...

it is a different world isnt it...when you barter and trade for services...was just talking with someone on that the other day...and really like your descriptions in this dave...

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Another engaging portrait and memory. I really could imagine a collection of yours with one section dedicated to portraits from the past.

Mama Zen said...

I enjoyed this tremendously. Just wonderfully done!

Windsmoke. said...

Very evocative memoir indeed. Looking forward to reading about Father Proberty :-).

Kat Mortensen said...

These little Sketches by Dave are so endearing and real! Your philatelic exchange was particularly heart-warming! Bring on Pater Proberty!

I am sorry if more than one if these comments appears!

Dave King said...

Jenny
I think I agree: a bit of each.

The Elephant's Child
I really appreciate you saying this. Thank you so much.

Mary
Yes, it was another world. He had so much time, but of course we were all paying customers then - though that was not what he was all about, I think.

jabblog
Yes, I'm sure it was. My parents certainly thought highly of him, and he definitely had a way with children!

Laurie
As ever, your thought much appreciated.

Brian
Indeed, but I think this bartering was all part of his bedside manner.
I collected British Colonials (as they were then) and so did he. When he discovered my interest he began to bring his books of swaps whenever he visited.

Tommaso
Maybe I should give some thought! Thanks for saying.

Mama Zen
Thank you so much. Really appreciated.

Windsmoke
Ah yes... that reminds me, must get on with it!
Thanks for this.

Kat
As always, a big thank you.