I wrote this after seeing a photograph of a friend's father in RAF uniform during WWII. It made me think how obvious our lives seem, seen from our present day perspective, and yet how chancy it all was. My own father fought in WWI, was badly wounded in Palestine and could easily have died there out in the desert sand. What then, finished before I began.
Up in the night sky the sound of aircraft, somewhere over the fields the sound of Ack-Ack and falling bombs, but in the upstairs bedroom Becky was struggling to give birth. There was nurse Bodkin as usual, but sitting in the chair under the low thatched roof there was a different doctor, a young and unsure fellow, because the regular man had been killed, drowned, during the Dunkirk evacuation. This was wartime Britain, 1942, and I was slow to venture down the birth canal. It must have felt safer to stay, given the circumstances.
“ Let nature take its course.”, said the doctor, crossing his fingers. No, now we must help, thought the nurse, but of course she could not take command when a doctor was present. Eventually out I popped, but that was not the end, because I had my brother, someone I had been close to for many months, waiting in line. The doctor dithered some more, the nurse insisted at last, but baby number two was dead on arrival. Another wartime casualty.