That was not thunder, sister, but a gun, not lightning nurse, incendiary bombs... See there -- a plane just crashed... How many adults with so much to lose or keep intact: authority, position, dignity -- and class, perhaps, would throw it all away to play with a few children, to cringe and quiver on all fours beneath the table, desk and beds to play their silly games? Ward Sister Mary would. For it was us who would have shrunk beneath the sheets in abject fear had we not braved ourselves to face the world with our new game of make believe -- make Sister Mary, if we could, believe the storm was nothing of the sort. A simple air raid -- not a thing for us to fear, though adults would, we knew. Too soon, alas, the matron came spitting fire and brimstone and ordering our playful sister to desist. Come out at once and tidy up your uniform! A most disgraceful exhibition, letting down the hospital. Behaviour worse than any child's! We heard next day she was in deep, deep trouble.
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Saturday, 9 February 2013
A Small Storm with an Aftermath
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Oh dear! Yes, I guess child psychology wasn't big among the nuns in charge! What a difficult time to be a little child. Terrible to live through (a good subject matter though!) Oliver Sacks writes a bit about it in his book Uncle Tungsten, about his experiences as a child with chemistry, the development of chemistry, and then being sent off during the blitz. Just so hard to even imagine now. Good poem with the violence in the background somehow understated but definitely there. k.
I always enjoy your pre-war, war poems, Dave. This is no exception. I don't find Ward Sister Mary evil in any way. I think she must have been young and naive and just got into the playfulness with you all....though. of course this was termed inappropriate by those in charge!
I echo Mary's sentiment. I love the retrospective nature of many of your posts.
nice...really cool bit of your poetic memoire sir...she sounds like quite the character and understands things the matron doesnt....
Excellent write Dave of a kind ward sister who had the well-being of children close to her heart.
As a child I was hospitalised several times and can remember the strictness and routine of ward life then.
My lasting memories are the joy of docs signing my autograph book, a doc trying to tempt me to eat the mushrooms in a stew (hated them then-love them now), an accident with a bedpan...and my realisation that I had never believed in God.
Also learnt of racism then - but I was too young to understand it. I innocently informed a nurse of what a fellow patient had said of her - she never spoke to me again. How children have the innocent power to hurt deep.
What is it about Authority that it forgets the truth Sister Mary knew in her bones? Wonderful piece sir, thank you.
Sister Mary was an angel in disguise.
always the kind ones who pay the devil. and you still remember the unfairness of that, don't you?
Sending YOU Aloha
~ > < } } ( ° >
Liked this war poem. It was different.
Sister Mary was indeed an Angel!
I remember being in hospital at the age of seven, having my tonsils removed. If only a member of the nursing staff had been like her. Ours were so "regemented" and stern - made the experience much more frightening: and had that been in wartime, it would have been even more so!
Thought-provoking stuff as ever, Dave. :)
Thanks everyone. As always, an amazingly supportive set of responses, for which I am most grateful.
One thing, though:- Sister Mary was Ward sister Mary, not a nun. A sister in those days was a senior nurse who was in charge of a ward, and responsible for all that went on there. I'm not sure if they still have them or not. I have heard that some hospitals have reintroduced matrons, who were responsible for the hospital as a whole - and back then kept everyone on their toes!
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