Arthur Wellard

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EXCERPT: 

Interview with Mr Arhur Wellard, Age Exchange, 2/5/1985.

Q:     - a childhood illness that you had, do you -

A:      Oh yes, scarlet fever.  That's right.

Q:     What was that like?    

A:      Well I can't really - I was about six or seven I believe. I know it was before my mother died. I know that. And I remember lying in the back room on a very beautiful sunny day like this, the doctor calling. I can't really remember that I was ever feeling ill, to be quite honest. I remember I could hear the children playing out on the street and wanting to be out there, but I wasn't allowed to get up. And then sometime I suppose in the afternoon, it seemed a long time to me, an ambulancecalled and I was taken to the Brook hospital, because the - that was the hospital for scarlet fever and diphtheria in those days. And I remember being put in an isolation ward, a small anteroom off of the main ward, because they - they're huge wards, or they were huge wards to me. And the ceiling seemed miles away. But being isolated, I remember crying. And yeah put that - play it back a bit, see if we've got it properly.

Q:     I'll never find the place again actually.

A:      Oh all right.

Q:     No, don't worry, it'll - it's recording better now because you've got it a bit closer.

A:      Where was I up to?

Q:     You were saying that you were put in an isolation ward with the scarlet fever in the Brook.

A:      Oh yes, that's right. I was - and I cried my eyes out. I - and then I wanted to go to the toilet, you know, to make water really. And I kept banging on the glass panel and no nurse came and I had a fear of wetting the bed. And anyway, a nurse came in and I did the necessary and felt easier. And then maybe, I don't know how many days I was in isolation, they put me out in the big ward. And there were grown-ups as well there. But I never had any visitors, but the visitors that called had to wear the white gowns. But I remember sittingup in bed and this rather big nurse cutting my

hair with clippers, which upset me because apparently as a kid I had a nice head of blonde hair. And that upset me and started me off crying and some of the patients got fed up with me andtold me to shut up in no uncertain terms. Anyway, I remember getting up, being allowed to get up and it was at the back of the Brook hospitaland there were the ninefields, it's a big council housing estate. And I remember the nurse, or two nurses, taking us out for a - a walk. And the grass seemed ever so high to me 'cos I wasn't very big as a child anyway. And coming back, and then one day the nurse walking me round the grounds, and you know the tall water tower they have in the Brook? And she stopped and pointed to the water tower and said "that's where we put naughty boys." I thought that was very unkind, because I was very homesick. And then I was taken from hospital, goodness knows where to, a convalescent home I remember this rather large charabang as we called them then, a coach, taking us somewhere and feeling very unhappy and I remember looking forward to the day when we were going back home and we were sitting in the coach, I know we were coming through a town, it may be somewhere in London, and all the children singing a song. "Mother will you take me home from this convalescent home", I forget the rest of the words, and I was so happy to be home that was my first experience in the hospital.

Q:     How long was the whole period from going in to coming home?

A:      I don't know, I don't really know, it was a matter of weeks I think. There was a - there was a period of time where you were in the isolation hospital, then you went - either went home or went to convalescent, but in my case I know I went to convalescent somewhere but feeling very unhappy about the whole of the experience.

Q:     Why didn't you get any visitors?

A:      I don't know. I didn't get any visitors, nobody came to see me. I suppose really it was because well in those days you see my mother she was very hard put and I think it was a question, no disrespect to her or any of my familyreally, that oh well he's alright, he'll be alright and it's a short time. See it may have been a matter of two or three weeks I don't know really you see because I haven't got any sense of time on that and it's very difficult for me to remember the exact time I spent in hospital, but I do remember my brother Bill, of course most of them are dead now, my brother Bill sending me a bigoval box, a white box of chocolates and it had - nearest I canget to the portrait, the Gainsborough lady that they used to have on the films, Gainsborough films, she reminded me of that lady. And I remember opening this parcel and two nurses there and one of them saying well come on aren't you going to give me one? And I think they ate most of them actually. That's true yeah, but it was a sad experience for me really being in hospital and I think that was about it.

 

 

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