Geoffrey Blake-Palmer (1909 – 1980)

“……I had seen in the ward office the list of those “down for a leucotomy”, with my name on the list, and other names being crossed off as the operation was performed. My “turn” must have been very close when one evening the superintendent of the hospital, Dr Blake Palmer, made an unusual visit to the ward. He spoke to me – to the amazement of everyone.

As it was my first chance to discuss with anyone, apart from those who had persuaded me, the prospect of my operation, I said urgently, “Dr Blake Palmer, what do you think?”

He pointed to the newspaper in his hand.

“About the prize?”

I was bewildered. What prize? “No,” I said, “about the leucotomy.”

He looked stern, “I’ve decided that you should stay as you are. I don’t want you changed.” He unfolded his newspaper. “Have you seen the Stop Press in tonight’s Star?”

A ridiculous question to ask in a back ward where there was no reading matter; surely he knew?

“You’ve won the Hubert Church Award for the best prose. Your book, The Lagoon.”

I knew nothing about the Hubert Church Award. Winning it was obviously something to be pleased about.

I smiled. “Have I?”

“Yes. And we’re moving you out of this ward. And no leucotomy.” ”

Frame, J: An Angel at My Table (1990)

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