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Personal Glimpses of Gravir XI: Tonsils and Adenoids

Personal Glimpses of Gravir XI: Tonsils and Adenoids

An account of life in Gravir, by Calum Macinnes, 8 Gravir.


XI Tonsils and Adenoids

I made good progress in school and was invariably awarded first prize at the annual prize-giving ceremony. The book prize was always in English and sometimes my fluency in, and understanding of, the language in which the books were written, were inadequate. But the books had many large pages from which to make paper boats! With some gravel ballast and a paper sail they could be sailed across the loch when the tide was high.

But despite my scholastic progress I suffered from recurrent colds when I was seven or eight years old and it was decided, after medical advice had been sought, to send me to Glasgow to have my tonsils and adenoids removed surgically. I travelled to Glasgow at the end of the summer holidays along with my aunt, Mrs Christina Ann MacKinnon (my father's sister, Ciorstaidh Anna Fhionnlaigh). She was married to Hector MacKinnon of Cromore and they lived in a single-end in Medwyn Street, in Whiteinch, in Glasgow. They had a family of five, all of them much older than me. In chronological order, they were: Finlay, Chrissie, Isa, Willie and Marion. The single-end is a tenement flat with two large rooms: one is a bedroom; the other is a kitchen with a recess big enough to hold a bed. How they managed to squeeze in a restless eight-year-old ragamuffin - and did so helpfully and cheerfully - is difficult to imagine but squeeze him in they did.

The single-end had no inside toilet, but a toilet on the outside landing was shared by several families. The toilet was always littered with squares of newspaper that did duty as toilet paper. If you were too long inside the toilet you were certain to be disturbed by loud banging on the door when the next client thought that his or her call of nature was more urgent than, and should take precedence over, yours!

The day for my operation finally arrived and I was taken to the hospital along with other boys and girls who were to have the same operation. We were in a large ward, holding about thirty of us. I have three clear and distinct memories of my hospital stay. The first concerns the difficulty I had in understanding the Glasgow accents of the nurses, and rather than give me time to absorb what they were saying to me, they nurse-handled me to do what was required. This led to some embarrassing situations concerning bottles and other items of hospital paraphernalia.

The second memory concerns the preliminaries to the operation: I remember well how I struggled against the chloroform mask until unconsciousness took over. The third memory is of my return to consciousness after the operation. A large man dressed in black and wearing a clerical collar, sat by my bedside. I learned later that he was the Rev Peter Chisholm, from Gravir. He was, I think, the minister of Partick Highland Free Church and my aunt's congregation minister. He used to visit members of his congregation in a horse-drawn gig. I should perhaps add a fourth memory: the excruciating pain in my throat and nasal passages. This pain eased with time.

After the operation I spent several weeks convalescing in my aunt's flat. Enforced idleness and absence from school made me restless and I would be the first to admit that I must have been difficult to deal with in these days. On one occasion during my convalescence I went with my Cousins, Chrissie and Isa, to have a photograph taken in Jerome's, a reputable photographic shop in downtown Glasgow. It shows me as an innocent looking eight year old with well brushed hair and wearing a brand new coat. I have been searching for a copy of this photo for years, but without success. I think my late sister Chrissie had a copy of it in Lemreway, but it has not turned up.

At the end of my convalescence, arrangements were made to send me home in the company of Berry (Murdo Matheson, No 27 Gravir) who looked after me well, but after his session at the bar of the ship on the voyage across the Minch, I'm not sure who was in charge of whom! We travelled to Gravir in Murdo Alex Morrison's seven-seater bus and on arrival in Gravir were met by several people, including Colin Macmillan, No 33 Gravir, and Angus Morrison, No 1 Glen Gravir, to whom I'm reputed to have said in a distinctive Glasgow accent: 'Please carry my bags!' I still haven't lived that down, but in a matter of days my Gravir accent reasserted itself.


Title: Personal Glimpses of Gravir XI: Tonsils and Adenoids
Record Type: Stories, Reports and Traditions
Type: Reminiscences
Record Maintained By: CEP
Subject Id: 41069