One of the Christmas season routines that marked my and my brother’s early childhood was tagging along to choral performances at Kimberley’s hospitals — public ones only, in those days — by a matronly ensemble of retired Galeshewe nurses. The performances were part of a Red Cross project to make the most of the experience and knowledge of retired but still active township nurses, which at the time fell under the care of my late mother, then a district office bearer in the organisation. Nursing, as a life of service, had long been a feature of our domestic atmosphere. We always enjoyed the story of our maternal grandmother, bound for the Balkans front on a troop train in 1917 with a contingent of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, dashing for the hissing locomotive at every halt to fill her teapot, the catering staff’s tepid offering having fallen short of the essentials for properly made tea. The teapot spectacle caught the eye of a young officer of the Gloucester ...

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