10 Forsythia Grove
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT
I am surrounded by a large number of cackling individuals pet - all imbibing coffee and nibbling on fudge - and it is a little difficult to concentrate! I have edged my lemonade some way apart from the melee and hope to be able to focus on what I am doing.
I braced myself to go and visit dear Pom-Pom in No Return District Hospital on Sunday evening. Luckily, it was still daylight when the Banger 0.9L and I approached this megalopolis and I was able to discern a sign denoting the way to an 'Orange' car park. I tipped what seemed like an extortionate sum of money into a talking machine and then sallied forth to find a way into the interior. I think they need someone in the car park to lead visitors into the building because, I must say, it was altogether tempting to just get back inside the Banger and motor off again! Eventually, however, I did locate an open brown door and in I trotted. I must say that one of the first things I saw was actually a poem, painted large upon a board, and this was a cheering thing. The wispy pink words - so true and human - looked small in comparison with the size of my surroundings, but I think words like these should be mounted at the entrance of every ward, in case of feeling engulfed by concrete and parted from the sky. I did see a colour-coded wall map upon a wall and it transpired that, if I followed a purple, floor-painted, line I should eventually reach the Medical Assessment Ward - where Pom-Pom was supposed to be sojourning. I felt small and insignificant and perhaps this is my own, relentlessly advancing, age with its parade of jowls and wrinkles? Even an operative becomes decrepit and my days of rippling muscles and sleek black attire are fast becoming etchings in my memory banks.
When I first clapped eyes upon my friend, I saw that he was attired in one of those white, flapping, hospital gown which open at the back, when one is standing, to reveal an individual's collapsing buttocks. Fortunately, however, Pom-Pom was sat down in a wheelchair, carrier bags packed, at the side of his bed. He was about to be transported to a different ward on the other side of the hospital and a porter had just arrived to take him. This young man set off and I followed behind the pair of them, breathless and bewildered, with the bags. It rapidly became apparent that we were engaged in a long trek through what felt like miles of corridor and up and down large, bed accommodating, lifts. The porter was friendly however and told me that it had taken him about a month to understand all the passageways and corridors when he first started! 'Jonquil' ward turned out to be an orthopaedic ward and it was bemusing to wheel past a whole parade of patients all bed-bound and on traction! 'Surely this isn't right?' I said to the admitting nurse. 'Oh I'm sorry,' she said, 'There aren't any medical beds at the minute.' Pom-Pom was simply mute and I don't think it would be possible for anyone - even a healthy, upright, adult - to feel much in command of this situation.
So poor Pom-Pom was unloaded into a bed and I got to unload his gear into a bedside locker with about 25 compartments in it. It was hard to turn this cumbersome item round as its wheels seemed to be embedded in the material used for flooring. When I proffered him his watch, he said, 'Take it home will you? It needs a battery.' I said, 'You know I can't. The carnivorous Xanthe will think I'm usurping her daughterly prerogative.' An argument then ensued with Pom-Pom finally asserting, 'I'VE ASKED YOU TO DO IT AND IT IS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYBODY ELSE.' I took the watch and left a note stuck to the top of the locker. It read: 'I have taken your father's watch home to get a battery for it and I will bring it back.' Dreadful. Pom-Pom seemed too tired to engage in further conversation, so I simply kissed him on the cheek and trekked back to the car park along the purple painted line. I don't think I can write any more about this subject at the moment dear. It is too exhausting.
On a more refreshing note, Penelope (Colonel Mustang's wife) has asked me to engage in some bulb planting in the troughs outside her rather splendid-looking country home, and I gather this is in preparation for her Spring social and bridge parties. So far, I have suggested that the largest stone trough should contain about x20 white bedding hyacinths (scented as you know dear) interspersed between the white saxifrages. And I think x20 of the white crocus 'Jeanne d'Arc' can go between the silver thymes in the smaller trough. I have, further, been eyeing up a border currently containing a row of Lavendula 'Munstead' and I think there is sufficient space here to intersperse some fringed (or lily-flowered) white tulips. I can hardly wait to get on with it or, indeed, to see the hoped-for cascade of whiteness next April or so!
Sorry dear. I know you find the whole subject of horticulture to be especially tedious. If you want to tell me more about your intended painting of a whole army of toy soldiers in your next epistle, do feel free!