15 February 1915

About today one hundred years ago, George Calderon finally escaped from the quarantine of Fort Brockhurst near Gosport and made it home to Hampstead for at least a fortnight’s sick-leave.

As Kittie wrote in her memoirs, he was ‘still very ill and with a high temperature’, but at home he soon regained his satiric energy:

The regiment suffered all the usual frightful discomforts of the first year of the war. He told me all about them, and cursed the mismanagement when, as was so often the case, they were entirely unnecessary.

But at the very same time he would produce a picture so excruciatingly funny! As when […] the whole regiment was swept by influenza and he and hundreds of others were down with bad tonsilitis, and not only were there absolutely no ‘comforts’, but no ordinary necessities of life, and no proper medicines, from the moment in the morning when a belated orderly would come round with their gargle in a pitcher, on to the end of the whole awful day. His description made one rock with laughter — though tears and rage were not far off.

It makes one think that the book he might write about the war, when it was over, would be a mixture of hard-hitting criticism, farce, seriousness, lyricism and tenderness.

‘So then I had him home for another blessed, all too short time’, wrote Kittie.

Next entry: 16 February 1915: The die is tossed…

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About Patrick Miles

I am a writer who specialises in Anton Chekhov and is writing a biography of George Calderon.
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