It was winter and war time in London. I was sixteen and working in my first job at Chadwick Street off the Horseferry Road with the Gaslight and Coke Company, There was no National Health Service at that time and, as many of the younger doctors had been called up for the armed forces, older doctors were recalled from retirement to cope with the civilian demands. There were never sufficient of these doctors and so it was often quicker to go along to the nearest hospital and wait, if one needed treatment. This I did after a hacking cough persisted and I developed pains in my chest. It was my first ever visit to a hospital. There were the usual walls of sandbags protecting the windows and front of the building from bomb-blast at the site on Vincent Square. As I walked through the tunnel entrance of sandbags into the foyer I had no comparative references, but it all looked to me grey, austere and foreboding. My particulars were noted down and I sat on a bench in the room indicated to me. There were others waiting, but not all that many. When my turn came the doctor looked down my throat, prodded me and checked my chest and back with a stethoscope; and then gave me some pills. Outside, I was directed to a very small office with the word BURSAR on the door. An elderly man asked me to sit down on the only vacant chair and looked at a piece of paper. He read out some details about myself that I had just given to the receptionist and then asked me, ‘How much are you earning, lad?’ I told him ‘One pound and five shillings a week.’ ‘And how much of that do you give your mother?’ ‘Five shillings.’ He thought for a moment. ‘Well, I think you can afford half-a-crown for your treatment, lad.’ I waited a while until it sunk in that this amount was what I was now expected to pay. I dug into my pocket and produced the required sum. I never went back. My cough improved. The pains in my chest vanished. (Sixty two years later in 2002 I thought about this episode and calculated that in 2002 values half-a-crown was equal to £24 and it took me 4.8 hours to earn it. The time I spent in the hospital was about 20 minutes, so the treatment came to nearly 15 times more an hour than my earnings)