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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

An author's observations

Friday, November 20th., Thorpe-le-Soken.

It is said that 40 troop trains went from the South, Cromer-way, to supply troops against a feared invasion last Monday. All I know is that the traffic was considerably upset by troop trains, and newspapers were three hours late.
An Emergency Committee meeting for Thorpe Petty Sessional Division called at Colchester tomorrow; but I received a letter this morning from Capt. Chesney, S.M. Division, to say that it had been found that such divisions were too big, and that they would be split up, and would I act as military representative on the Tendring (Thorpe) Police Division. Now I don't know if I am to attend the Colchester meeting tomorrow.
On Wednesday afternoon I went to Burslem to see Mater, reported to be past hope. I saw her at 8 p.m. and remained alone with her for about half an hour. She looked very small, especially her head in the hollow of the pillows. The outlines of her face were very sharp; hectic cheeks; breathed with her mouth open, and much rumour of breath in her body; her nose was more hooked, had in fact become hooked. Scanty hair. She had a very weak, self-pitying voice, but with sudden outbursts of strong voice, imperative, and flinging out of arms. She still had a great deal of strength. She forgot most times in the middle of a sentence, and it took her a long time to recall.
She was very glad to see me, and held my hand all the time under the bed-clothes. She spoke of the most trifling things as if tremendously important - as e.g. decisions as if they were momentous and dictated by profound sagacity. She was seldom fully conscious, and often dozed and woke up with a start. "What do you say?" rather loud. She had no pain but often muttered in anguish: "What am I to do? What am I to do?" Amid tossed bedclothes you could see numbers on corners of blankets. On medicine table, syphon, saucer, spoon, large soap-dish, brass flower-bowl (empty). The gas (very bad burner) screened by a contraption of Family Bible, some wooden thing, and a newspaper. It wasn't level. She had it altered. She said it annoyed her terribly. Gas stove burning. Temp. barely 60. Damp chill, penetrating my legs. The clock had a very light delicate striking sound. Trams and buses did not disturb her, though sometimes they made talking difficult.
Round-topped panels of wardrobe. She wanted to be satisfied that her purse was on a particular tray of the wardrobe. The mater has arterial sclerosis, and patchy congestion of the lungs. Her condition was very distressing (though less so than the Pater's), and it seemed strange that this should necessarily be the end of a life, that a life couldn't always end more easily. I went in again at 11.45 p.m. She was asleep, breathing noisily. Nurse, in black, installed for the night. The mater had a frequent, very bright smile; but it would go in an instant. She asked for her false teeth, and she wanted her ears syringed again, so that she could hear better. This morning she was easier after a good night, but certainly weaker. Mouth closed and eyes shut tight today. Lifting of chin right up to get head in line with body for breathing. A bad sign.

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