Geoffrey Gowlland letter from hospital to his friend.
Letters of 1938 between Geoffrey Gowlland (b. 1903) and his College friend and Best Man at his wedding.
This letter (click here) came to light in early 2012. It was written while Geoff was in Croydon General Hospital when he was recovering from typhoid, and had only recently been taken off the Danger List. It was written in pencil. At the request of his family, the names of the recipient and of his wife have been obscured.
Smithfield Ward. Saturday 29th
For your letter of yesterday and the stream of correspondence and books which arrived from you and B*****, I have to offer my very deepest thanks. Actually I do get a bit fed up at times though a diet of 2 novels per diem, 3 papers and an assortment of technical books sent up from the factory keep me pretty well amused.
In the words of the Bard "This is indeed a bloody business". Why I was selected out of the 1/4 million inhabitants of Croydon to be one of the 300 or so victims (nearly a 1000 to 1 chance) I don't know. Incidentally, statistics show that 74% of the typhoid sufferers are non-conformists and 60%-odd teetotallers! Why I know not.
As you've no doubt heard I'm to go home tomorrow weeks; have 10 days to get adjusted to normal life; followed by not less than 4 weeks seaside holiday. After this I shall be fit for 2 or 3 hours work a day. It's unlikely that I'll be able to drive the car before the early summer according to the authorities here! Also it will be 12 months before I recover normal health, but I'll be better than ever before. In addition I'm now completely immune from not only Typhoid (but not Paratyphoid B) and a whole variety of other fevers and such ailments as scarlet fever. In short for persons like yourself not less than 6.1/2 or 7 months leave of absence would be necessary. To sum up, my advice to all is DON'T CATCH TYPHOID.
From the moment I was carried out of the ambulance on Dec 5th [?] until Christmas I was entirely unconscious, although I am told I was delirious very li8ttle and was able to answer questions, sometimes using the longest possible words, all in a slightly wrong context! I spoke at a rate of more than [? does he mean "less than"] 1 word per 3 seconds! I do actually remember a little of my blood transfusions, and my curiosity in the instruments and process led to the calling in of an extra nurse to hold my head away so that I couldn't watch!
In some ways I'm glad I have no recollection of those bad days (3 in all) when it was not expected that I'd pull through, and to recover one's memory when the temperature has fallen to more reasonable levels is a good way of avoiding the more uncomfortable features of an illness.
Tomorrow I sit in a chair for the first time for 15 minutes or so. I've a real he-man hunger and cadge, I believe illegal, second helplings from the nurses whenever possible.
Although my window backs due north, I too missed the aurora, sad to relate.
Until this week, by the way, my father came up every single night which is a great feat on top of a days' work, augmented as it is by my own [It should be born in mind that at this time Egbert was in his mid-sixties and had never learnt to drive a car].
Works on our garden have ceased entirely since all observers are agreed that the lawn is not going to be a success. Unless I'm pretty lucky we won't have the back garden done before spring. It's a great pity.
Fortunately the factory is running, quite by chance, through the least worrying 2 months we've had. As it happened, when taken ill, I had no major tasks on hand, and there have been incredibly few breakdowns. My last new instrument invention has slowly got going, and now sells very well, and the fruits of 4 years worrying of the Admiralty has resulted in their deciding during December to standardise our equipment. We have quite large orders on hand for Army, Navy and Air Force at the present time.,
As this letter seems to be entirely about self and illness, I would ask your apologies and to have in mind that I haven't any outside news. Furthermore I learn that I am extremely lucky to have pulled through, another case not nearly so severe as mine died some time before Christmas.
You know, taking into account my tonsils in 1936, Peggy's disordered pregnancy in 1937 and my typhoid in 1937-8, we feel we deserve what the Americans call "a break" now, Don't you agree?
Presumably you saw that I'd served a writ against the corporation - I imagine that the rest of them (and we know of 40- others to come) are waiting for the report. Fortunatyely my insurance policy coves total and partial disablement for typhoid and so for 12 months I'll have an augmented income (hah hah)!
With many thanks and best wishes . . . .
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