Friday, March 24, 2006


Story contd.

It was hard work with lectures every day, practical nursing sessions, copying up notes and trying to absorb all the information, but it was also a lot of fun. We all had the same off duty so there was always someone ready for a trip to Eccles to sample the cakes or a jaunt to the local flea-pit to see a flick.

At bed-time Freda would regale us with tales of what she got up to in the army and we would discuss our hopes and dreams – usually scoffing our sweet rations at the same time. Apart from Freda who was older,, we were mostly aged about eighteen. Some of the girls had come straight from school and some had had office jobs. I was the only one with any experience but was also the youngest. As we walked from Jesson House to the hospital for our meals, we would catch glimpses of the wards and the ‘real’ nurses and wonder if we would be capable of coping in three months time.

The practical sessions were enjoyable, where one of us would act as patient and we would learn how to give a bed bath, without the patient freezing to death and with modesty preserved at all times – only exposing the part of the body to be washed and washing the private bits under a towel. Great care was given to pressure points and through out my training bed sores were unknown - the hospital would have died of shame.

Of all the girls, Turner stood out. She was different in that she had no trace of a Lancashire accent, had been expensively educated and oozed confidence from every pore. She was always first – to ask and answer questions, to collect her post, in line at meal times – always head of the queue. When we started sick room cookery lessons at the local technical college, it was more noticeable than ever as there was a shortage of equipment. The more diffident of us who would stand back to let others go first would then be racing against the clock in order to complete the recipe in time. As we were awarded marks each week which would affect our final result, we started to get a bit twitchy. Our cookery tutor was a little hedgehog of a woman who appeared to be completely mesmerised by Turner. On the day of the final cookery exam we were all nervous. Poor marks in this exam could influence the final PTS result. If we didn’t pass we were out.

Turner excelled herself. She whistled round the room like a whirlwind, grabbing, lunging, and clattering in order to be first to collect equipment and ingredients and present the hedgehog with the perfect invalid’s stew. We followed in her wake as best we could. And then disaster! In her haste Turner had grabbed what she thought was a bottle of gravy browning to give her stew the perfect brown hue and was devastated to see it turn scarlet. Inadvertently she had grabbed a bottle of cochineal. For once the hedge hog asserted herself and awarded Turner nil points! Which we thought was a bit hard. Not long afterwards we lost our first probationer and the original twenty-one became twenty.


fjl said...

Typical goofy sloane, this reminds me of half my mates- unfortunately. Oxford High produced these. ( cringe!!)

PI said...

fjl: she left voluntarily but i don't think she would have survived three years. Only nine of us did.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Attaway, P.I. Only 19 more to go!!

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Turner sounds as if she felt pretty entitled and as if she might have, intentionally or not, intimidated hedgehog. Hedgehog, for her part sounds a bit mousy and perhaps Turner made her feel more so. She overreacted by giving her zero on the test and that probably didn't make her feel much better either.

It's a funny old life, and it's funny how that story (I love it - you've got a real gift for drawing your readers into the picture) shows us that although the situation and times may change, people don't.

I'm going to direct a friend of mine, Wes, Pi-wards. He's from Eccles and in his 60's and think he'd love to read your blog. Next time he shows up on my blog comment box, I'll send him over.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Forgot to tell you, Pat: I don't go to the Yoopee (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) until April 6. I do have a laptop that I'll be taking. So you will have to put up with me for days on end....

PI said...

Hoss: You had me worried - '19' thought you were talking months but of course you meant probationers.
Thanks for the info on your trip; must find myself a map of the States. Today again, I get your site but not the post. Will keep trying.

Sam: Thanks. Turner would have left sooner or later. Only nine of us finished.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Freda and Turner sure added colour! Especially Turner with her scarlet stew :-D

I wonder where they are today.

Pat, you sure can tell a good tale, such an engaging manner.

PI said...

GG: Freda is happily retired in a lovely spot with her beloved dogs.
According to her I was forever jumping on tables and singing my head off, when we were in 'block'.
Don't remember myself!

Turner will be in some very important position, if she is still alive.