1A The Hole
Hope End Street
June 12 2000
It is raining here at Hope End Street; I can just about see it as I gaze through the dirty net curtains – and grimy glass windows – of my bedsit. But (unusually maybe) I am not one of those who see only darkness in the rain. I find the sight and sound of it – sloshing down upon the pavements – to be comforting. I imagine it to be enfolding me in a hug. A kind hug. And it acts as a silencer of the loud and shouting world. I seem to need this Auntie, this gentling of the spirit that occurs under a low sky.
Thank you for your telephone call by the way. Yes. I am more than happy to come round and cut off your T-shirt for you. You must be getting quite hot and sweaty if your plaster cast is stopping you from disrobing and getting into a bath. Still. Those freezer bags you mention sound very useful for the purposes of keeping the cast from getting plastered in mud while gardening. Do you get much trouble from condensation inside the bag?
Your remarks about the nature of heroism reminded me of a novel by Patrick White (he won the Nobel prize for literature in 1971) called ‘Riders in the Chariot.’ I don’t know if you are familiar with it Auntie? It has four main characters, all of whom might be identified as ugly in the view of the world. One is a deranged heiress; the second is a coarse-looking washerwoman; another is a professorial Jew, and the last is a syphilitic aborigine. They are: Mary Hare, Mrs Godbold, Professor Himmelfarb, and Alf Dubbo. The remarkable thing about them though is that they all exemplify the virtues of goodness, kindness, and compassion. They are riders in the chariot of God, otherwise known as the Zaddikim. It was one of those books that can change a human life and I have always kept it, albeit getting more and more battered – and caked with dust – with every passing year. I would take it to a desert island because I would never tire of the mortifying acts of casual cruelty described and these characters’ efforts to offset them. Perhaps I, too, was a child not set in a popular mould – made ugly by shyness – and who now aspires to reach out a hand to very ill people who lie in their hospital beds. People who need me.
On the nursing front, by the way, learning methods have taken a downhill turn owing to the introduction of ‘study modules’ on the library computer. In my opinion, remote learning has an alienating effect on the learner for, once you have completed one set of multiple choice questions, the page vanishes forever from the tangible world into a digital realm from whence it is unlikely to reappear. All such increases in technology seem to correlate, I feel, with a loss of humanity. I really feel quite depressed by it Auntie; nursing care on hospital wards has similarly vanished down the computer toilet in this way.
Your loving nephew