Look, I’ve managed to prise open another old drawer inside an old green leather bound filing cabinet, wiping the dust off this one I can see that it contains the record cards from before I ever started school, like this one filed under “Having Me Tonsils Out”…
1. I was in hospital for three days to have my tonsils out and my parents didn’t visit me once, none of the other kids in the ward had visitors either, parent s just got in the way of the medical staff in those days and were discouraged from visiting.
2. I must have always had problems with my tonsils for I recall being stood in the street holding onto our Neds pram while our mother nattered to some other random woman in the street, Ned in the pram, that would be 1959 or 60 then, I’d have been three or four-ish, when I replay the old 8mm cinefilm inside my head my mother is telling the random other woman “Ooh he’s suffered for ages with his throat” and the other woman is looking at me in pity and saying “Oh the poor mite” and I’m putting on that sadface and hoping that an ice cream will be coming my way – it doesn’t.
3. They packed a small bag for me, I’m in the bedroom while my mother is packing some pyjamas in a small cardboard suitcase and she’s explaining that I have to stay in the hospital for “a few days” and I’m definitely thinking, “I don’t want to do this”, at no time did they ever suggest that they wouldn’t visit though, thats for certain.
4. My dad came home from work in his car so I knew this was serious and we drove to the hospital, it was Seacroft Hospital in Leeds so over the other side of the city then, but come on, it wasn’t fookin Timbuctoo was it ?
5. My dad just dropped us off at the front door and then went back to work, my mother took me in and we were shown where I’d be incarcerated for three days, she changed me into pyjamas which seemed weird because it was only dinnertime, and then tucked me up in bed and walked off.
6. I recall kneeling on the bed staring out of the window at my mother walking back down the hospital driveway to the bus stop and me wondering why I’m in bed during the day in an old building with loads of other kids, I’m crying.
No not now, then…
7. The kid in the bed next to me tries to talk but I’m not having any of it, as far as I can recall I never spoke to anyone for three days or joined in any of their games, I only assume that they were all in for tonsils removing too, it was very common in the 1960s, I think the government had found a monetary second hand value in kids tonsils.
8. After the operation all you were allowed to eat was ice cream, I sort of started to like this bit.
9. On the third day they returned to pick me up, I didn’t speak to them for days and would only eat ice cream for weeks until my father finally lost his patience and declared that my throat must be healed by now and that he wasn’t forking out for any more bloody ice cream.
About forty years later I had a really bad throat and went to the doctors, “Ah yes” he said peering into my very sore throat, “You have tonsilitis, a bad case of it too”
“I had my tonsils removed when I was four years old” I said barely suppressing the smirk
“Huh” is all he said