Monday, 28 July 2014

Interlude Two

This interlude was inspired by Joyce Grenfell’s war diaries.

Dear Miss Grenfell

I hope you don’t mind me writing to you like this after all this time.  It’s a good few years since we met, but we had such a good talk then that I felt sure you’d remember me.  What with that and my injuries.  I wasn’t easy on the eye.  I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror for months after I got blasted.

Just to remind you – it was 1944 in Italy.  You came to the hospital to sing for us.  I was so excited to see you because I knew of your work before the war.  Just to know that you were coming was such a tonic.  I expect a lot of the men told you that, but it is true. A real lady from dear old London, with a beautifully clear voice coming to sing just for us.  We were like boys waiting for our birthday to come.  You didn’t let us down either, Miss Grenfell. A lovely mix of songs - some to remind us of home and some to make us smile.  The chap in the bed next to me couldn’t smile so he had to make do with shedding a couple of tears instead. He assured me in his funny way afterwards that these were tears of joy, and I believe him.  When you had finished singing, you came around and chatted to us and spent a great deal of time on this.  Some of those Ensa types flew in and flew straight back out again with barely a word for us.  But you gave us all of your attention that evening.  Then you saw me and settled down next to my bed for a good few minutes.  I can’t tell you how much that perked me up.  Not just that I got special attention from you, but also because you didn’t show any disgust at how I looked.  If the singing job ever packs up, nursing is the job for you, dear Miss G!  We had a very intimate chat, and I just couldn’t help but pour my worries out to you.  I told you that I was worried about how my wife would take to me when she finally saw me again.  I had night terrors where she abandoned me for someone who hadn’t had half his face blown off.  You didn’t fob me off, tell me that I didn’t look that bad like one or two of the younger nurses did.  But you told me truth that I was grateful for.  You told me that if my wife was a decent woman who truly loved me then my injuries would make no difference.  Otherwise, you said, perhaps I would do well to find another wife anyway!  Common sense of course, but I hadn’t got much of that left and I am so grateful to you for showing me the way to go.

Well, now I’m all demobbed and the hospitals have done what they can. Thanks to a couple of decent surgeons things don’t look too bad.  But I wanted to share with you the joy I did find back home.  My Doris has been the angel that I hoped she would be and we managed to pick up where we left off, just about.  Not only that, we have a baby.  I hoped and hoped for a little girl so we could name her Joyce.  This time it was a boy though and we have called him Norman.  But I won’t stop until there is a girl!  I’ll let you know when little Joyce arrives.

Thank you.

Your servant,

Robert Davis.

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