16 September 1922 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

Back to rain again, drizzle at first + then very heavy blasts from S.W. Was at Viewfield for an operation on the girl Scott1 who was pitched over Usher’s motor three years ago2 + has developed spinal mischief + a psoas3 abscess. Saw a few town cases. Dora came at 11.11 a.m. [and] Jean at 11.7 p.m.4 I walked to the Moat5 after lunch + got pretty wet in the feet + legs.

1 The child Scott is unidentified but is possible that the child is the daughter of James Scott, shepherd, Inhabitant Occupier of a house at Howford, Kirkhope [1919 Valuation Roll, VR011700009-/219, Selkirk County, page 219 of 611] – see also Dr Muir’s diary entry for 5 August 1919.

2 It is curious how detached is Dr Muir’s language in describing an incident (diary 5 August 1919) in which Usher’s car hit a child. He was similarly detached when a car driven by Robert Irwin Dees (1872-1923) had been “upset” near Berrybush (diary 24 August 1920) causing injuries to his daughter Phyllis Mary ‘Fiff’ Dees (1899-1920) from which she died in December 1920. Elsewhere Dr Muir refers to the death by drink-driving of two men at Galashiels railway station (trial of John Elliot of Blackhaugh, Clovenfords (diary 23 July 1921) and to Ernest Muriel’s aggressive driving “I wouldn’t say reckless – but just a little risky” (diary 23 July 1922). This is a reminder that the years after cars became widely available were a terrible time for dangerous driving (and the highest ever rate of road deaths) in which men in powerful cars with poor brakes terrorised rural roads not designed for such vehicles – a problem fictionalised in Kenneth Grahame’s ‘The Wind in the Willows’.

3 The psoas muscle is a paraspinal muscle located deep in the body, very close to the spine and the brim of the lesser pelvis; a helpful regular follower with expert medical knowledge has provided the reading here for which the Editor is very grateful.

4 Jane Henderson Logan ‘Jean’ Pike née Muir (1877-1941) and Andrina Dorothy ‘Dora’ Muir (1882-1978), Dr Muir’s eldest and youngest daughters respectively.

5 Assume Motte, grid reference NGR NT458,268, which is identified as Moat in the 1886 Valuation Roll, see also Ordnance Survey 6 inch Selkirkshire Sheet XI.SE, published 1900.

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/25, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1922]

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Archivist, interests include Dr John Stewart Muir 1845-1938) of Selkirk, general practitioner, and Seton Paul Gordon (1886–1977), naturalist, author and photographer

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