Thinking back to Erskine Hospital in 1956 brings back another memory .
During the time I was in ,there was to be an official visit from Prince Philip ,Duke of Edinburgh. One that he made every year when he visited Scotland . When an Equerry toured the wards telling us how we should conduct ourselves during his visit ,he told me I must only speak when spoken to and always call him 'Sir' .
Now ,this put me in a very rebellious mood indeed ,so I told the Equerry that I would not address the Duke as Sir ,as I told him I swore I would never call a man Sir ever again He was flabbergasted !
It was really a bit of bravado on my part , but hospitals being what they are ,( continuous gossip shops ,) my outburst spread through the wards like wildfire . Patients came from all the wards to ask if it was true . Suddenly I was the hero of the hour .
Next to see me was the Hospital Commandant . He proceeded to give me real telling off ,but all he did was make me angrier .By this time my bridges had been burnt and I couldn't go back on my promise .
So? What was to be done ? The hospital staff cajoled me in every way possible ,but in my stubbornness I refused to back down and anyway , It was becoming a great change from the boredom of the Hospital's everyday routine.
It was eventually decided I would be locked in the Billiard Room which was across the grounds ,until someone pointed out that the Duke might see the empty bed and my belongings and maybe ask awkward questions. They really went overboard because of my threat . I really don't think I would have carried it through ,but they were so serious that they couldn't afford to take any chances .
Suppose the Duke were to ask about this empty bed and ask where the patient was .What were they to say ? What if the Duke asked to visit the Billiard Room ? It was then that blind panic set in . What did they do ?
THEY SENT ME HOME IN AN AMBULANCE !! That is how ridiculous they were . On my report from the Hospital they marked my absence as 'Refused treatment'. The following day the ambulance picked me up again and took me back to Erskine Hospital .
I didn't get to meet the Duke ,and I doubt I would be rude enough not to acknowledge him ..But I WAS determined I was not going to call him 'SIR' ,
I HAD made myself a promise that I would never again call a man 'SIR'to his face .
In a letter that was different .It is just a salutation ..In hotels and such I make a point of asking the staff NOT to call me Sir .
It is a silly little rule I made for myself ,but it was in protest at having to call some 'chinless wonders and prancing pansies' 'YES SIR ,NO SIR , THREE BAGS FULL SIR' . All the time I was in the Army .
That's me . Tommy the rebel .