4 August 1916

This is a pretty miserable way of celebrating the anniversary of about the best thing England has ever had the courage to do. Instead of being able to strafe the Hun all day and end up with a good dinner and a “bust” here I am actually in bed with about four miles of bandages round this never-to-be-sufficiently abused knee. Strictly entre –nous I don’t think the Doctors quite know what is the matter with it. Barton was quite convinced it was no longer “pus-sy” and whispered some scandal or other about housemaid’s. My present medical advisor on the other had says that there is only a very slight “sign-of–eye-teas” and has ordered me hot formentations again – thereby shewing that he thinks it is still “pus-sy”. The spelling of this last word which I intend to signify “containing puss” is a difficulty. If I leave out the hyphen it is too suggestive of kittens, while the omission of the second s, or the insertion of an e would lead to confusion with the eminent divine. Septic is another bad word, it looks wrong like that, yet with a c it means to my mind something quite different. I am not, you will be glad to hear, at present being starved – in fact there is plenty to eat and the patients are actually allowed beer! I have had to knock this off lately because it makes me so sleepy in hot weather, out here there is nothing else to do but sleep so it does not matter. We area in a chateau – one of the medium sort – not one of the deer-park kind such as I dwelt in for one day a week or two ago – but yet of fair respectability in that the rooms do not all lead through each other, and have not all got windows on both sides. My, or rather our room, is long and thin with two beds – one by the window which is very nice, the other by the door which is very unpleasant. I have the former. Last night I was alone, today I have company. The other bed is occupied by a Subaltern with trench fever who is being sent on this evening to the C.C.S. I wonder who will take his place: it was I understand formerly occupied by a parson with boils. I hope I shall not catch all the complaints; in the case of my own bed I am fairly safe as its owner had merely shell-shock, which though contagious during a bombardment, is hardly likely to be infections through the medium of sheets and blankets, even supposing the former have not been washed as I suppose they have. My present doctor is a chubby Major man with a stutter – at present suffering from ptomaine poisoning through eating tinned pork-pie. He will probably do his best to kill me as last time we met I was Town-major of some wretched village and his ambulance had snaffled all the best billets, from one of which they had to be evicted. This of course is not likely to cement a lasting friendship. However by a studied flattery of his skill and a marvellous gratitude for the benefits and comforts I am now receiving I may yet be able to save my life. The weather which up to today had been lovely has changed – we knew it would soon. The sun still shines and it is fairly warm, but there is a young hurricane blowing and rather ominous clouds keep chasing each other across the course of the sky that I can see without actually getting a stiff neck. Of the other inmates of this lunatic asylum I have not yet seen much as I am not allowed out. Mould is here somewhere with his throat – he is also confined to his room and likely to remain so for some time yet I fancy. Then there is a Lincolnshire Subaltern with an ugly face – suffering from impetigo – at least he calls it that – I should say barbers rash – at all events he makes it an excuse for not shaving. A young Doctor suffering from shock completes the list so far as I know. The two last feed together next door – a somewhat gloomy existence for both of them. I do not know which I should dislike the more, to have to sit and look at a man with an ugly face, or talk to a man who is more of less dotty. Fortunately I have not got to do either. Banwell spent one night here on his way through. He is now really bad and it looks as if my original prediction that he will get to England will come true. He is of course fearfully sick about it and would far rather have been killed outright then sent back – some people are like that. The Padre who was here was named Paterson – he has left behind him a St Leonards Magazine. Will you ask Cousin E. if there was ever one of that name at Streatham – it may of course be that he is merely related to one of the Staff – or engaged to the Senior Curate’s daughter – or anything of that sort.

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