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.



PhilipH said...

You might like some of the other Joyce Grenfell monologues on Youtube.

Shadow said...

What a beautiful poem, I believe she is right.

...and the heart. I believe if we were all to LiSTeN a bit more, HeaR a little more, we'd all be better informed.

PhilipH said...

Thank you Shadow. You're absolutely right of course. Trouble is, the over-stretched medics in the NHS and most other medical centres simply have to get through as quickly as they can. In general though I think we should all listen more than we do and say less.

ANITA said...

Beautiful poem!!and yes we should d listen more to the patiens.Sometimes we are soo ocupied showing how good we are to diagnose something, we really miss the point.Thanx Phil for this post.Its so great.Wish you happy new year as well to you and family :)

PhilipH said...

Dear Anita, you know more than most how little time there is for each patient in a busy hospital workplace. Doctoring and nursing are noble professions and new treatments and discoveries make it extremely difficult for you all to keep pace.

the walking man said...

God alone knows the number of doctors I have fired for not listening. being able to research is a terror to them. Good long post Philip--now tell me of Northampton--I am curious.

PhilipH said...

Hi Mark, hope you're doing as well as possible.

You say you're curious about Northampton; so am I. Cannot fathom out your curiosity dear chap. All I know is that Northampton is well known for shoe manufacturing, or it USED to be before all the cheap east European imports flooded the market.

Sparkling Red said...

Your reading list sounds wonderful! The more I learn, the more I lose interest in the news and find that most interesting insights are to be found from the study of history. I used to read Nancy Drew novels in primary school! I haven't read one since then, but I sure did love them when I was a kid.

All Consuming said...

Joyce Grenfell: "George: Don't do that!" - I've heard and seen that monologue many times and it always makes me laugh! Pa is a big fan and so I've seen and read other pieces by her too. A fine choice sir *nods*. You sound like you're keeping yourself busy, and therefore out of trouble, which is good news for everyone *laughs*.

That advice, to listen to the small gods I wish doctors would do just that. These days especially they have no time to hear anything it seems.

Happy new ears to you too! Xx Michelle

PhilipH said...

Cheers Michelle - Your Pops has excellent taste, and so has his lovely daughter. Hope all is as good as poss with you today. xx

PhilipH said...

Thanks Sparkling, I hope the Nancy Drew book isn't TOO primary school-ish but I have to follow the recommendation of my friend and see how it goes. Seldom do I read fiction but variety is the spice etc.

Biographies are one of my favourites. Now that poor David Bowie has lost his battle against cancer I shall seek out his life story in a while. I know he once brought his show to the Fairfield Halls in Croydon back in the 70s but tickets were scarce so I didn't get in. He was unique, talented and quite wonderful. He grew up not far from my home town; great guy, a polite man, a great loss.

Angelina Pratt said...

Happy new year Philip, that is a pretty interesting book list. I've several on a go as well. i think it is good advice to listen to patients, but I would add-patients should also listen to their body because it is always telling you how it is doing. :)

PhilipH said...

Angelina, thanks for dropping by. Of course you're perfectly correct in listening to our own body. And heed any warning it is giving.

Snowbrush said...

It's funny to have good reading lined-up. Thanks to my interest in Margaret Deland, I haven't had to go to the library in ages.

PhilipH said...

Hi Snowy. Yes, I read your post about this lady author and the numerous purchases you've made of her works. Quite an investment it seems to me.

I too have not been in a library since I left Scotland. Don't even know where the nearest, or any, library is around these parts.

My sis-in-law sent me a book for my 81st birthday earlier this month, one of Alan Bennett's tales: The Lady in the Van. A true story of an old woman, ex-nun, whom Alan Bennett 'befriended' by letting her live in part of his garden in an old van. It has recently been made into a film of the same name with Dame Maggie Smith in the title role. I shall delight in seeing this film, probably via DVD, as it is unique tale of a unique woman.

Cheers, Phil

Snowbrush said...

“It's funny to have good reading lined-up.”

I meant to say “fun” rather than “funny,” and it’s especially fun in winter when reading becomes so much more important due to the unpleasantness of going outdoors.

“My sis-in-law sent me a book for my 81st birthday earlier this month”

I forget how old you are, and it scares me to be reminded, and makes me wish you would turn back the clock aways because, odds are, you’ll go before I do, and I will hate that more than you can imagine.

LL Cool Joe said...

It's interesting watching Joyce Grenfell, I can quite clearly see that she was a great influence on Victoria Wood.