Thursday, February 09, 2006

ON THE CARPET

Story contd

Outside Matron’s office I tried to breathe deeply to calm myself but my heart was thudding and my breathing shallow. I rubbed my shoes in turn, against my black-stocking-ed calves and they gleamed against the parquet floor. My hair was well off my collar – apron, collar and cuffs a pristine white – like my face – no ladders in my stockings – I’d be fine - but I found myself gulping every time I remembered why I was standing there.

Lottie came through the hall ushering children into the dining room. She winked and gave me a sympathetic grin. I knocked on the heavy oak door. No answer. I knocked a little harder.
‘Come in Nurse.’
My hand shook as I reached for the handle and I had to grip really hard to turn it. Matron was at her desk in front of the window and the morning sun hit me like a spotlight, dazzling me so I couldn’t see Matron’s expression but her tone was severe.
‘Do you know why you are here Nurse Buxton?’
‘Yes Matron – I was late getting back on duty. I’m very sor…’
‘Not only were you late, you chose to do it whilst I was away. Have you any idea of the concern this caused Staff Nurse and indeed all the staff?’
‘I didn’t think Matron I…’
‘How long have you been here Nurse Buxton?’
‘This is my third week Matron. I started on August 12th.’
‘Yes Nurse and I took you on trust having been given a very good report from your school. I’m now wondering if we made a mistake.’
Oh God, I thought, she’s going to throw me out. How can I face everybody at home?
‘I want you to think very seriously about the consequence of your actions. Do you want to be accepted at the Hospital to embark on three years training or are you just filling in time until something better comes along?’
‘Matron I’m really serious about becoming a Sick Children’s Nurse and taking my R.S.C.N. I’m so sorry to have let you down. I promise…’
‘You see Nurse, not only have you let me down, you have let down the whole staff and the children. You have let your school down, your parents and finally yourself.’
My voice was choked with sobs.
‘I’m so sorry Matron.’ came out in a gasping whisper. I still couldn’t see Matron’s face but her voice was less severe was she said,
‘Now go to your room, wash your face and when you have calmed down go and join the Nurses in the dining room. Staff Nurse and I will be watching you very closely. The rest is up to you.’
‘Thank you Matron.’ I stumbled out of the door.

In my room I had a jolly good cry, washed my face and told myself I was going to concentrate on being the best bloody Nurse in the building. And no-one, not Maddie, not anyone was ever going to get me to do something I felt was wrong.

Things looked brighter after a few days and we were paid – my first salary. I liked the idea that we were paid monthly – a step up from the weekly wage Mum and Dad were paid I got £5 a month – not bad when you consider we had excellent bed and board and our laundry was free. My only expense was the bus fare home. I started a savings account where you bought stamps from the Post Office and stuck them in a book. But first I bought a cigarette lighter and had it engraved ‘To Pop from Pat’.
Whoever said it is more blessed to give than to receive certainly got that right

I had a letter form Liam, MTL’s brother. He knew Maddie was engaged but I think he was quite sweet on her and wrote to me as the next best thing. He told me MTL had won a place at his college and was reading Chemistry (poor devil) and was rowing with Liam – that’s in a boat – not fighting. I was to start night duty next week. This involved being up all night alone – potty-ing and changing the babies and toddlers every four hours, being on call in case of problems and keeping the boiler alight. Easy peasy!

13 comments:

fjl said...

I have a picture of Dad down at London in his rowing days, when he was reading physics before he went into the SOE.
Those seem to be the days.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

"...and keeping the boiler alight."?? Nurses need to be "jack of all trades"?

kenju said...

I'm glad she didn't sack you!

R. Sherman said...

Sounds like you had an first rate Matron.

Cheers.

PI said...

fjl: I have rowing pictures also but am not allowed to use them. Also my new scanner seems to be incompatible at present with my computer - so i probably didn't need to replace the old one - darnation!

PI said...

Hoss; Most of the time but the boiler only at night.

kenju: I can't think what I would have done if she had.

r sherman: She was apart from her prejudice shown to Lottie which worried me a lot.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

That Matron certainly knew how to put the fear of God into new young nurses! And why do I think that throwaway 'easy peasy' means it's all going to go horribly wrong when you start night duty? I guess it's that schadenfreude again, because I'm so looking forward to finding out! ;-)

granny p said...

Weren't they tough on (very) young women then. My sister became a nurse in the 60's and it was much the same. She got into trouble for asking questions. "Nurses don't ask questions..'

Guyana-Gyal said...

Gee, I remember one matron scolding a friend of mine because her 'bottom was wiggling' in her skirt.

Caroline said...

Gosh I've just read through all your postings so far after your one comment on my site - thank you!

You write beautifully and I really appreciate the fact that you don't put all the swear words in... too many blogs (even some that I read) contain too many!

PI said...

Zinnia, Granny P and GG: All you say about them is true but it did have the desired effect. I have never been late since and when lives are at stake there had to be an overall discipline. That seemed to disappear with the Matrons.

PI said...

Caroline: Welcome and thank you. Well done for reading all. I may ask questions later.

Caroline said...

I was worried you might say that ;-)