Thursday, 21 July 2011


I don't know what got me thinking about this chap but he's a fonder memory from childhood than you might think possible for a creature that was condemmed to crawling on its belly in the mud by God!   As a youngster I spent a lot of time at the bus stop outside Southend Hospital.  Don't get me wrong I wasn't a weak sickly child.  It's just that I had strabismus - a medical term for what is commonly known as a  lazy eye or a squint to you and me.  After a year or so of unsuccessfully wearing a patch over my good eye to correct the problem, a good way of getting treats from sympathetic passers-by, I had an operation to correct my wonky gaze.  Just don't trust me to reverse expensive cars that haven't got parking sensors.  My depth perception has never been perfect and I've been prone to dings, especially on the left side of vehicles.

See - he's a bit different!
Anyway, this snake graced the entrance at the hospital which I frequented, often for appointments with people with optho- in their professional titles.  My meticulous research shows that he was nearly painted over in a recent refurbishment of the building but local  people campaigned for him to be restored and Sis Lovelygrey confirms that they won their battle. Hurrah!  Perhaps he is responsible for my lifelong affection for reptilia as motifs in arts and crafts.

The mosaic is based on the Rod of Asclepius, an ancient symbol of medicine and healing.  I seem to recall that I've known this fact since I was a wee one and didn't need Wikipedia to glean that particular piece of information.  What was news to me is that this single snake wrapped around a stick is often confused with the Cadeceus, a similiar symbol graced by two winged serpents. This was erroneously adopted as the Emblem of the US Army Medicals Corp since the officer who chose it got his facts wrong.  Someone high up insisting that they're right?  Now, there's a thing!

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