Thursday, January 24, 2008

Horace Batts - 1933

Horace Batts

There is something incongruous writing about Wales, and a TB sanatorium that existed over 50 years ago, on a laptop while sitting in Starbucks in the centre of Glasgow.
But for reasons too complicated to go into that’s what happened yesterday.

However reminded me yet again how dependent on the the internet and new media this project is. Without it then it is unlikely that this book would have come so far in such a relatively short time.

Indeed the first people to respond to an article I posted on the BBC web site were from Australia and Canada.

John Batts (Australia) wrote:

“ I have some letters written from Craig-y-nos in 1930 by a cousin of my father. The writer did not last very long at the sanatorium and died there aged 29. If you would like to see these -- and I think you should --I think it could be arranged. The project sounds very worthwhile, if a bit depressing.”

A few days later John Price from Edmonton, AB. Canada added:

"Both myself and my little sister Anne were at Craig-y-nos,me first,on the balcony during the snows of 1947,then Anne a few months later. Here is a secret I have kept for 60 Years,I was in love with Bridie Thomas! My favorite nurse was Nurse Chemis? The matron was not very nice and took all our treasures regularly. We took part in a Tommy Trouble radio broadcast as well, remember My Old Man's a Dustman? I was sent to Highland Moors to convalesce.Clive Rowlands was there at the same time. All of the nurses there were nice. Sad part ,my mother died while I was there,It was 2 weeks before my tenth birthday. I have had two visits to see Craig-y-nos and so much has gone,even "Jimmy the Ghost" ".

The letters of Horace Batts are in the Powys archives, Llandrindod Wells and the following are some extracts from them.

The sanatorium regime for very sick patients was absolute bed rest and Horace explains this to his family:

“I have been put on absolute rest which means I must not move in bed, receive no visitors, write no letters have everything done for me even to being fed. It is to get up my temperature down I suppose. don’t worry will you.”

However Horace manages to write a letter and gets a visitor to post it for him.

“Dear Mam and all,
Just a line on the q.t. Tell Mrs P not to send any more cakes as cakes are not allowed. I shall want some eggs and fruit, you can send bananas, apples etc. but no pears.
Sister opens all my letters, parcels, just slits them that’s all , so be careful what you are sending.
.....It’s a funny business this, being fed and everything. I have gone shiverish but that’s to be expected.

Remember me to all...

PS We had a service on wireless on Sunday.”

Indeed the weekly “treat” is the Sunday service on the wireless. It reminds Horace that he is a lapsed chapel-goer.

Horace says:
“We had a nice service on wireless Sunday night. I thought of Sunday nights I should have gone to chapel but never did. I wish now I had but if God will spare me I bet I’ll be different. I’ve said that before havent I though.”

He died.

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