Monday, August 22, 2016

Wait for Me! -- Illness

A continuing series of Neels-ian excerpts from the autobiography ("Wait for Me!") of Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire:

Decca had acute appendicitis while we were at the Old Mill Cottage and the operation was performed on the nursery table. I was jealous of all the attention paid her and when the stitches came out, she put them up for sale and I bought one for sixpence. 
Another difficult time was when Muv, aged fifty-seven, and not used to being unwell, got measles. She was dangerously ill but the only evidence of it was a sheet dipped in disinfectant every few hours and hung over her bedroom door. In spite of these precautions, I caught the disease...and although not as ill as my mother, I remember having to spend Christmas in bed.

I am channeling 'Damsel in Green' when I expect that the family pulled the old upright piano down the hall and gave her a concert of carols from there.


  1. So here's a terrible story: Muv, who didn't believe in medicine and thought 'the Good Body' would purge itself of any illness, did not have any of her children vaccinated. Thus when Jessica, in her early 20s, had a baby, she had no measles immunity to pass on to the child, who couldn't be vaccinated until she was however old, caught measles at about five months old and died, leaving her parents devastated of course. Jessica's 'Daughters and Rebels' (US, or 'Hons and Rebels' in the UK) is also a great read along the lines of Deborah's 'Wait for Me.'

    -Betty van den Betsy

    1. I just got to that part in the book. SO sad...and sad that none of the family was invited to the funeral.

    There was a carol programme on Cor's radio and they were all singing with gusto, but presently the programme ended and Georgina said, 'I wish we had a piano, then we could sing all we wanted.'
    Dimphena, who was brushing her hair on the opposite side of the fire, looked up. 'But we have! Not the one in the drawing room—there's one in the schoolroom at the end of the corridor—it's on casters.'
    It was no sooner said than done. With Franz's help, the piano was installed; five minutes later Georgina was seated at it, playing 'The First Nowell' with great verve and dash, and leading the singing in a rather nice soprano. They were singing so heartily that they failed to hear the car crunching through the snow on the drive below; they were still singing when the Professor opened the door. At the sight of him they stopped with the abruptness of a cut of the scissors through tape.