Saturday, 9 January 2016

Books Wot I'm Trying to Read

​​My poor old minces aint wot they used t' be, even wiv me new bins to 'elp me out. You may not understand as my vernacular is of the ducking and diving south London  genre.
'Minces = mince pies = eyes. Bins=short for binoculars=glasses. 
Recently finished "A Staffordshire Lad" written by Harry Titley. I bought this because of his RAF spell at West Kirby and in Germany. He is a year or so younger than I but his journey in the 1950s was almost identical to mine.  Remarkably similar, except he makes no mention of any girlfriend(s) during this time.  He must have started down Lover's Lane after demob as he is now married and has a family. Perhaps I'll buy his newer book "A Staffordshire Man" as I'm fairly certain that his post-RAF story will tell of his meeting his wife and other adventures.

Now reading a small book by Joyce Grenfell: "George: Don't do that!" which is part of one of her marvellous monologues.  I have always had the greatest respect for Joyce and still do.  I read her book about her travels all over the middle east and Europe during WW2, entertaining the troops along with her pianist friend Viola Tunnard. They were so courageous and dedicated; the men at the battle-fronts really adored Joyce and her friend.  She came from a well-to-do family; one relative, an aunt I think, was Nancy (Lady Astor) and Joyce's background resonates in her voice pattern. But she was so down-to-earth in all I've seen, heard and read about her.  This little book is quite charming, and typical.

She wrote this funeral poem, so very 'Joyce' in my opinion.

If I Should Go
Often Called - If I Should Die

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I'm gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known
Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So sing as well.
And I cannot end the Joyce Grenfell mention without offering one of her loveliest and funniest little songs, via Youtube:

I'm also reading "Stand by Your Beds" by David Findlay Clark, again about the 1950s National Service episodes.  The title is, of course, the command that was bellowed out whenever an officer or NCO entered one's billet or tent.  Well known by all conscripts, RAF and Army, although usually pronounced as Stand by YER beds!

Another current book that I'm trying to read is "The Heart Speaks" by Dr. Mimi Guarneri who is an American cardiologist. Subtitled: A Cardiologist Reveals the Secret Language of Healing.  It is very well written and interesting to me because it may help in some way with my own cardio problem.  She recounts how she was on the ward rounds during her training some years ago, led by a silver-haired cardio consultant. He told the group of trainees that his best advice was to listen to the patient. This extract is what is written in her book:

"There's one thing I want to tell you before I leave today, a lesson you won't learn in medical school.  If you let patients speak and tell their story, and you REALLY listen, they'll give you their diagnosis. But if you keep interrupting them and they don't get to tell it, you'll keep ordering tests and lab work and you'll miss the answer that's right there in front of you"

Later she goes on to tell of a young man who had been diagnosed with an incurable problem, Lou Gerhig's disease, which paralysed this chap from the neck down. It is a fatal disease.  Dr. Mimi was simply taking his vital readings and she asked him about his earlier life.  Briefly her story says: He told me that he was fine before his accident.  She was puzzled. There was no mention of any accident in his records. He said he was hit from behind in his car and had to go to A&E and was told he just had a mild whiplash and it would wear off.  A few weeks later he couldn't move. Back in hospital he was diagnosed with this fatal disease!  Dr. Mimi thought his paralysis might be a disc causing the problem but her suggestion to her senior neurologist was dismissed; he refused to order a CT scan.  She then discussed her thoughts with her chief resident.  He listened to her and said he was willing to risk the wrath of the head honcho and carried out a CT scan in the middle of the night. A disc problem was disclosed; a small operation was performed and immediately the patient was cured of this 'incurable' disease.  I hope to come across further heartening passages, no pun intended.

I've two Lancaster bomber heavyweight books to read soon.  Plus a book, fiction, called The Secret of the Old Clock, by Nancy Drew. Never read any of her stuff before but it was said to be quite good by a blogger friend of mine.

My final book-in-waiting is Biggin on the Bump, the WW2 RAF fighter station Biggin Hill in Kent.  One of the most famous Spitfire and Hurricane stations of Battle of Britain fame.  This book is full of superb photographs of many brave men and women, the aircraft and buildings there. 

Happy 2016 to all.