All posts tagged: Snailam’s Watch

Snailam’s Watch

SUMMER’S FACE WAS STILL SMILING on the English countryside as I stepped off the train at Witham Friary one September afternoon in 1918. An old man in a threadbare tweed suit held my kit bag for me and then nodded self-consciously when I finally took it from him. Shouldering the heavy bag, I thanked him before walking away from the carriage and down the platform. I tried not to walk too quickly, but in truth I felt like running and leaving the pitying and overtly helpful passengers far behind me. The Matron at the hospital had made sure my uniform was clean and pressed but now I was regretting wearing it instead of my civvies. The ribbons on my tunic looked a lot more impressive than I felt they should, but it was the empty sleeve, neatly pinned up at the shoulder, that had attracted the most furtive attention from my fellow travellers. People, strangers, had been helping me all day whether I’d needed it or not and their reverential attention had long since started …