Thursday, February 16, 2006

WE SAW WINNIE

Story contd

Matron heard that Winston Churchill was going to be driving from A to B on the coast which meant he would have to drive past us. We all lined up, staff and children, on the pavement and cheered when we saw his black limousine. The sight of the children and our uniforms had the desired effect and the car slowed down whilst Winnie beamed at us and gave his special V-sign. He looked like an ancient baby with a seraphic grin and pale pink skin.

I felt sorry for him. He was very harsh towards the workers during the General Strike but he had been at the helm during ‘England’s Finest Hour’ in WW2. That was a time when people were kind and caring to complete strangers. We were united with our allies, the Yanks and the Ruskies fighting for good against evil. Then at the end of the war the men returning from the Forces and the working classes wanted social justice for all and got rid of Churchill the Tory.

Not only the children thrived on the clean, fresh air and nutritious food. Mrs Mack was a good plain cook and we hungry teen-agers devoured everything she put in front of us. (I still find myself sniffing if the grand-children leave food on their plates - but restrain myself.) Our big treat on pay-day was to take the tram, after lunch, up the coast to Handey’s Café and have chicken and chips followed by sherry trifle then back in time for tea. What little pigs we were.

The best part of the job was the children- some only a few years younger than us. One boy – Joseph - a scruffy, shaven- headed lad, used to sing a mournful dirge.

Mother I love you,
I will work for you,
Don’t let those tears roll down your cheeks,
I’ll bring my wage home to you every week,
Mother I love you,
What more can a loving son do?
You’ve worked for me a long, long time,
And now I will wo-ork for you.

He got sadder and sadder until the last line when he would change from minor to major, and bellow the line triumphantly with a cheeky grin.

We all got a shock when we were roused in the middle of the night and told to get dressed, put our cloaks on and gather in the hall. White- faced Matron told us that little Tommy Roberts was missing. When the Night Nurse had gone to do the 2am round she had found his bed empty. All of the building had been searched and now we were to go out and scour the surrounding area. These were more innocent times but we were on the edge of the sea and we were worried sick. The Nuns in the Convent next door were enlisted to help us and we all fanned out and searched up and down the sand hills. It was very dark and our lanterns and torches weren’t much help. Then we heard the chilling tone of the Convent Bell and slowly returned to base.

Matron, incredibly, was smiling. Little Tommy had got up in the night to go to the bathroom, got lost on the way back and ended up in a clean empty bed in the girl’s ward, confusing all. We had been in such a panic that no-one thought to count the children but the relief was so great there were no post-mortems.

Sadly Lottie decided she wanted to get a job near her brother and wouldn’t be going to the main Hospital. As a result we were to have two new Nurses, one of whom became a friend for life.

Great excitement at home! Maddie’s fiancée was coming home, and Maddie was to be married in the summer. I’d be a bridesmaid for the third time. Three times a bridesmaid – never a bride. We’ll see.

12 comments:

PI said...

Iam having trouble publishing photos so please bear with me. the Edwardian lady is Gran with Mum in the pram

Guyana-Gyal said...

I'm trying to catch a good speedy internet run here!

Can you imagine, you saw a bit of history, live, Mr. Churchill himself. Did you wave?

When one of my brothers was little disappeared...they found him fast asleep on the loo.

R. Sherman said...

Keep up with the stories and photos. I trust your grandchildren are reading this.

Cheers.

PI said...

GG: I probably blew him a kiss. It's a habit of mine.

Randall: I suppose I am really doing it for them. But the photo business is making me cross-eyed

fjl said...

My dada used to get these signatures sent over. Once I asked him to re -write a signature on something he'd done for me, and he said 'well it's my signature, it's me, I don't have to re-do it. If a man gives you a piece of paper signed 'Churchill', you don't stand about wondering whether you should get on with it. '
Interesting!

PI said...

FJL; Quite right too. Well done that man!

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

aHA I know the outcome of that one! Great photos, you are clever, I wouldn't know where to start with a photo post.

PI said...

Zinnia: It is driving me DEMENTED. But I won't give in.
And you can blog roll. Trouble is none of the family have any experience of blogging.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Pat, I use http://www.blogrolling.com/ for my blogroll. You can have one blogroll free, several for a small cost. I had some help from a techie friend in getting it up and running, but since it's been installed I've been able to manage it by myself with no problems. So it must be easy to use! (Don't worry about posting this as a comment - it's just for your info really.) Best of luck!

Guyana-Gyal said...

Oooh you flirt you, did he blow a kiss to you too?

Sharon said...

My mother used to sing that song to me (I'm 26) and her mother would sing it to her. It's a song I'm planning to sing to my son when he's here, I currently sing it all the time to my bump!

She originally came from the East End of London so I've got to assume that it was popular there.

This is the only reference i've found to it on the internet!

PI said...

Sharon: found you at last! How great that you know that song - it brings back so many memories. The East end sounds about right because these children come from the poorest parts of Manchester. I'll bet your mother has some interesting tales to tell:)