I spent a lot of time in the City Hospital when I was a boy. Not because I was ill but because that’s where my Dad would get sent when he was too ill to be at home. He’d been ill for a couple of years before they realised it was cancer and when the chemo and radiotherapy didn’t work, they washed their hands.
The City Hospital had originally been in the countryside at Colinton Mains during Victorian times and was for infectious diseases. However the city grew around it although it stood in wooded lands and even had deer who’d pop in to scran for food during the winters. I mind my Dad sitting on the balcony watching them.
But he was a stubborn bugger and hung on for 5 years after they stopped treating his lung cancer. It eventually spread into his throat and on Christmas Eve 1980 he died. Not from the cancer , mind.
See, he’d been in the City Hospital leading up to Christmas but then he rallied 2 days before Christmas and my Mum was told he could come home for the holidays. So he got let out on the morning of Christmas Eve. Now my Mum hadn’t been expecting this so there was literally nothing in the hoose. So she phoned her sister Eva and together they set off to the shops at Tollcross in the early afternoon to see if there was a capon left in the butchers, the local shops having sold out.
About 10 minutes after they’d gone my Dad started shouting for my Mum at the top of his voice. I ran into the bathroom to see him and all I could see was blood. It was coming from his nose, ears and eyes, pouring into the sink. He told me to get my Mum so I ran up the road to the bus stop but the bus had gone. Then I ran 4 doors down to where his old boss, Alec Brown, lived and got him to come up. He was the one who called 999.
Thing is, we couldnae go with him. How would my Mum know what had happened? She got back about four and Alec Brown drove us to the hospital. But my Dad had died shortly after his arrival. My Mum was a widow at 51, the same age I was when my wife died a few months back. From cancer. Life. You can fucking keep it.
These are the last pictures taken of him, with Judy.