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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 103 pages of information about Observations of an Orderly.
our hut was blessed with its due leaven of them.  But I would not assert that they never had to put some finishing touches, either to their dress or to their hut equipment foldings, before the Company Officer’s tour of inspection at 8.30.  It sufficed that they would pass muster at 6 o’clock, when appearances are less minutely important.  And the man who never rises till 5.55 detests an alarm-clock that whirrs at 5.15.  The hour at which the alarm-clock should be set to detonate was one of our few acrimonious subjects of argument:  I have even known it upset a discussion on Woman.  But the early risers had their way, and the clock continued to be set for half an hour in front of Reveille.

The harsh vibration of the alarm at one end of the day, and the expiry of the Lights-Out talks at the other—­these events marked the chief time-divisions in our hut life.  While we were absent at work, our interests were many and scattered; but the hut was a nucleus for communal bonds of union which evoked no little loyalty and affection from us all.  On the May morning when I first beheld that corrugated-iron abode I thought it looked inviting enough; but I did not guess how fond I was to grow of its barn-like interior and of the sportive crew who shared its mathematically-allotted floor-space.  “Next war,” one optimist suggested during a typical Lights-Out seance, “let’s all enlist together again.”  There were protests against the implied prophecy, but none against the proposition as such.  That is the spirit of hut comradeship ... a spirit which no alarm-clock controversies can do aught to impair; for though 5.15 a.m. is an hour to test the temper of a troop of twenty-one saints, 10.15 p.m. will bring geniality and garrulousness to twenty-one sinners.

III

WASHING-UP

The following substances (to which I had previously been almost a stranger) absorbed much of my interest during my first months as a hospital orderly: 

Coagulated pudding, mutton fat and beef fat, cold gravy, treacle, congealed cocoa, suet duff, skins of once hot milk: 

Plates, cups, frying-pans and other utensils smeared with the above: 

Knives, forks and spoons, ditto.

I am fated to go through life, in the future, not merely with an exalted opinion of scullery-maids—­this I should not regret—­but also with an only too clear picture, when at the dinner table, of the adventures of each dish of broken meats on its exit from view.  I have been behind the scenes at the business of eating, or rather, at the dreadful repairs which must be instituted when the business of eating is concluded in order that the business of eating may recommence.

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