I first met Peter Malling and his wife Myra, the night before his operation, when his throat cancer would be hopefully removed, but sadly his natural voice would have to be cut away. I was called in to speak to him with my artificial voice, and I could see it gave him confidence for the future. I visited him again a few days after the operation and he was getting on fine, but having to be fed with liquid food by a tube up his nostril, which dripped from a stand all the way down into his stomach. I couldn't resist a poem and wrote, THE FUN OF LIQUID FOOD, which went;
That food pipe up nose, was nothing new,
as Peter slowly sniffed his stew.
Nurse Chrissie said, " Don't shout,
or wave it all about,
The rest will be wanting one too"!
Peter progressed marvellously, and like nearly all Laryngectomees, did not let his disability impede his life. In fact he took up that most dangerous of sports for a neck breather, that of swimming, and he has been an inspiration to many. He is an ex sailor, and with his silvery grey naval beard he is the very epitome of Captain Hornblower’s Bosun, played in the film by James Robertson Justice. As an ex-army man I have always admired the Royal Navy, so I will dedicate this poem, which is a true story, of how the men of the Frigate Glowworm gave their lives in order to save many troopships fleeing from a German Battleship. So a dedication to Peter, representing his old colleagues.
"The convoy will scatter, we prepare to attack,"
said the captain quietly to signalman Jack.
The Glowworm turned quickly, back to the east,
the troopships they hurry, away from the beast.
The battleship Hipper was seen by them all,
we could easy outstrip her, our Frigate so small.
But we could not run with the convoy to flee,
back to England this day, across the North Sea.
We are but a minnow, but we streak towards the shark.
Too far to speed torpedoes, but our tiny guns they bark.
Their shells rain down on the sea around,
we emerge each time, our enemy confound.
"Torpedoes now gone captain, leaping straight and true,"
The Hipper turns so quickly, behind her smoke so blue.
"The convoy sir, is now out of sight,
and within the hour it will be night."
A missile then hit Glowworm, she was blasted all apart.
That hateful German shell, I saw tear out her heart.
All of us, we perished, Nelsons' men right to the last,
but we saved all those young soldiers, so long now in the past.
So if the name "Glowworm", you cannot just recall,
please remember my shipmate heroes, true sailors one and all.