Neil – Mat: 29 Jun 1918

Ward 4
Walton on Thames
Dearest Mat,
It is twenty minutes to one. I’m hungry, starving, famished, perishing from inanition. That isn’t meant to be grinned at. It is climax in high tragedy. I am to go and see the pictures from a specially reserved lounge at two o’clock. I shall see them in company with two medical officers and a sister, but they wont have such a good view as I shall. The entertainment has been arranged solely for my benefit. To provide the key to the above mystery, I may mention that I am for operation this afternoon at 2 p.m. I am devoting my last minutes indicting an epistle to you so that you will be in my thoughts when I go off, and therefore on my tongue when I wake up – not that I have any special desire to have you there but I feel rather particular about keeping from talking about a few others. The sister says he wont do it without a general anaesthetic, but I’ll try to get him to do it with a local. I’m afraid there’s not much hope though, so it is probable that the ward will hear your whole private history from Sheehan Stto Harrington Av.

I am enclosing you a P.C. I had taken in Torquay. I am sending Mum some also. I tried to get someone else in on the same plate, but English convention was a bit too strict. I got your Peter Pan of Doug and yourself. Doug was excellent but I’ve seen better ones of you. I was looking at it in the medical room at Torquay the other day while I was waiting for the Quake to come. I left it on the table while I went away for a few moments to sign a separate peace, and he was there when I came back. About five minutes later he asked me if I was a married man. Without thinking I told him I was not. He looked at me as much in pity as in anger with the photo still in his mind’s eye and decided that the best course to take was to speak to the padre about me.

I manage to keep every body else’s letters alright, but I generally manage to lose yours before replying to them. I’ve done so this time, but I hardly think there was anything in yours worth commenting on.

Mac owes me a letter, but I haven’t heard from him for a while. Trot heard a week ago.

I must see about getting some atropine stuck into me now and some pyjamas stuck on to me.

I am hungry and what makes it worse is the dead certainty that when they tell me I can have something tonight, I wont feel like eating anything. It is a sin to waste a fine healthy hunger that Rothchild would give £1000 for. “With my hand on my heart, farewell

Your adorable brother