Video

A Cough that Sneezes Spreads Diseases

John Armstrong and Paul Collins

2008, 04:53 minutes

TAPECODE 965.03

Janet was 17 years old in 1941. Young men and women in the UK at that time had three options: continue their education, take a war-related job, or join the armed forces. Janet chose hospital work. In order to do this, she left grammar school in Barnstaple in Devon to attend a course in home economics at a college in Torquay. Her parents had wanted her to go to university, but Janet, like her friends, felt her education should fill an immediate and practical need. The next year, Janet went to Buckinghamshire to cook in a hospital where she worked until after the end of the war in December 1945.

Food was in limited supply and severely rationed. Janet was able to bring a modicum of sugar and butter to her family during her rare visits home. An atmosphere of frugality and caution was all pervasive, and the trains had signs posted in them advising commuters on appropriate conduct.

A COUGH THAT SNEEZES SPREADS DISEASES. TRAP YOUR GERMS IN A HANDKERCHIEF.
THE WALLS HAVE EARS.
IS YOUR TRIP REALLY NECESSARY?

A Cough that Sneezes Spreads Diseases is an excerpt from Four Sisters, a 77-minute video. Four Sisters is comprised of 23 incidental narratives that look at life in Toronto and Paris, work, travel, coincidence and minor revelatory moments in the lives of both artists — the sort of anecdotes that one might tell on a car trip. The stories recount remembered moments from childhood or the workplace; the illness and subsequent death of a parent, or of a pet; humorous travel tales and wry social commentary.

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