(August 24th to 30th)

Format: Triple

‘…”You’ll be seein’ Mr Godsoe soon ? …Well then, tell him from me that I expect to be through with my little trouble by the twenty-first of next month, an’ I’m dyin’ to see him as soon as possible after that date.” ‘

‘What sort of trouble was it?’ …

‘She’d ‘ad a bit of a gatherin’ in ‘er breast, I believe. But she never talked of ‘er body much to anyone.’


This is from “A Madonna of the Trenches” in Debits and Credits. A young soldier, shaken by his memories of the Great War trenches, is recounting how his aunt, who was – unbeknownst to her family – dying of cancer, had sent a message to her secret lover Sergeant Godsoe, with foreknowledge of her death. On that date she had died, and appeared to both men at the door of a dugout. Godsoe had barricaded himself in, sealed up the door, and killed himself.

‘…Come spring , I ‘ad something else to rage for. I’d growed a nasty little weepin’ boil, like, on me shin, just above the boot-top, that wouldn’t heal no shape. It made me sick to look at it, for I’m clean-fleshed by nature. Chop me all over with a spade an’ I’d heal like turf…I’ve gone the better part of a year onct or twice with na’un more to show than the little weepin’ core of it, like. All s’rinked up an’ dried off. Then he’d inflame up – for a warnin’ – an’ I’d suffer it…’


This is from “The Wish House” in Debits and Credits.

An old woman, Grace Ashcroft is reminiscing to her friend Liz Ashcroft about the love of her youth, Harry Mockler. He had left her, and was near death from septicaemia. Desperate to hold onto him, Mrs Ashcroft had found a ‘Wish House’ where she could take on everything bad that was in store for her lover. He recovers, but she gets a cancer on her shin, and knows that she will die of it.

…He went down the road, collected his little knot of listeners, and began the Song of the Girl. In the middle of his singing he felt the cold touch of the Crab’s claw on the apple of his throat. He lifted his hand, choked, and stopped for an instant…when his song was ended, he felt the grip on his throat tighten…


This is from “The Children of the Zodiac”, in Many Inventions. In this tale Kipling uses allegory to explore the human condition, of slayers and slain and slow doom, but also endurance and love and courage. The Girl, the singer’s loved one, had fallen to cancer years before; now his voice is taken from him by the same disease, and he awaits his doom.