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Open Features: The Airport Was Deserted

"What shall I do?'' asked the nurse. Arthur Grace, who lives in the Phillipnes, recalls a roll-reversal incident that occurred during his Royal Air Force service.

The airport was deserted. Our graveyard shift had dispatched the last plane and settled down for a few hours sleep leaving me to nurse a sore finger.

Somehow I’d got a splinter embedded down the side of a nail, and it hurt. I walked over to the sick bay where a lone nurse kept vigil.

It was dark inside except for a pool of light around her desk. She was small and as dark as the surrounding room. Introductions over, and need explained, I waited expectantly for her expert attention.

“What shall I do?” she asked.

Taken aback at this reversal of roles I proferred “Can you dig the splinter out?”

“What shall I use?”

By this time not only my finger throbbed. My forehead was beginning to throb too.

“Have you got a needle?” I ventured.

She thought for a moment then, tentatively showing one from a hypodermic syringe, quavered “Will this do?”

I accepted that it might and prepared for action. It did not start immediately.

“Do you think I ought to put something on?” she essayed.

After a few moments I suggested “How about rubbing alcohol?” That got us moving.

She dug around for a while and seemed satisfied all the splinter was out, then I found the room beginning to spin a little and I called a halt. Just as well as the nurse had a feeling an anti-tetanus shot might be called for. I claimed I still felt dizzy and promised to report for one later.

Fiftee years later, and retired here in the Philippines, I still have to honour that promise. Happily, my sister-in-law, on a holiday visit a week after the incident, sterilized a needle over a candle flame and removed a sizable chunk of wood, so no harm done.


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