The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
A (Mis)fit of the "Blues."
A (Mis)fit of the "Blues."
"You can get up to-day, Brown," said the M.O. to me one morning, on his rounds. In tne course of several weeks I had become wonderfully attached to my bed, and was loth to forsake its allurements. It seemed to me that tne "Doc" might have been a little more considerate, and a litue less drastic in his methods.
However, he didn't seem to see eye-to-eye witn me in the matter, and so I had perforce to "turn over."
With a deep sigh I hauled from my locker a neatly-tied blue bundle, opened it, and proceeded to don the contents, in live minutes a remarkable transformation had taken place, and there I stood, an "espitalya" patient arrayed in all the gorgeousness of a dinkum hospital "rig."
Each article is worthy of separate mention! First, thick, heavy flannel trousers ot a delightful sky-blue colour, about four and a half sizes too large, and requiring to be constantly hitched up and held in position until one needs his hand for sometning else. Then the aforesaid trousers sag down, crease into concertina folds, and finally find their level.
Being all the same size and pattern, these trousers are issued indiscriminately to dwarf or giant. But they're very accommodating, and with the aid of sundry bits of string and a packet of safety pins, can be made into something almost resembling a bad misfit.
Those remarkable pants are lined with cream flannel, which, when the legs are turned up some foot or eighteen incnes at the bottom (as in my case), makes quite a refreshing contrast—the sky-blue of the outer surface and the cream of the lining making one involuntarily think of a fine afternoon cloud effect. Never have these trousers been known to wear out, and the majority of them now in use were (according to ancient army chronicles) worn by Crimean patients in Grace Darling's hospital; were again called into use during the Boer War; have done yeoman service in the Great War; and will ultimately be carefully stored away for the next big scrap.
The colour, in the course of years, has in some cases lost its pristine freshness, but generally, it has retained its original hue to a remarkable degree. My trousers, unfortunately, belong to the faded and anæmic class referred to. At one stage, too, they must have been worn by either a vandal or a lunatic, for a large portion had been ruthlessly rent from the seat. (I'm convinced, with a razor. Possibly the colour played on the wearer's mind.) However; this huge cavity has been filled in by a piece of very new and very blue cloth, evidently straight from the dveing-works. Thus quite a picturesque touch is added to my attire. Enough has been said to give one a slight, yet very imperfect, idea of hospital pants.
Besides the garment already briefly referred to, one is also provided with a long, white calico shirt, built to accommodate both great and small. It reminds one strongly of a curate's surplice or a painter's overall, and as it reaches to the ankles, naturally keeps one verv warm. The metal trouser buttons attached to it are very serviceable and do not break when going through the mangle. Like the trousers, the shirts contain no pockets, as these are considered unnecessary for a hospital patient. In addition to the above mentioned garments, the Quartermaster thoughtfully issued a square of red cloth, with an extensive area ot some 12 or 15 feet. This has many uses, but was originally intended (we are told) to be used either as a body sash, in ye anciente buccaneer style, or as a mere necktie. Billjims use either style, according to taste. But, besides these two orthodox methods mentioned, it is frequently employed by ''light duty" patients in their dairy little tasks about the ward, and it is equally useful as a duster for wiping the tops of lockers, and as a cleaning rag to polish the primus. One finds it also most handy for rubbing over dusty boots when going to a Red Cross picnic, or for holding buns and sardines when returning from the canteen.
In fact, this cloth can be put to so many uses that it would take too long to enumerate them all. The longer one stays in hospital the more invaluable does he find it.
This, then, is your daily attire whilst in hospital—a dress in which your own mother would not know you, and in which you could safely slink past your most pressing creditor without fear of recognition.
In closing, it might be added, that one is also supplied with a pyjama suit which (strange to say) is about the only article that DOES fit. However, this, unfortunately, is seldom displayed in public, and so one is compelled to wander around as I have described —an apparition in red and white and blue, a sort of human Union Jack—with the feeling of being a square peg in a round hole and a good representation of a very bad misfit.