NO ICE MAIDEN
Meeting Andrew convinced me that I was not the ice maiden I had been accused of being when I objected to being groped by some one whose name I don’t recall. Our enforced separation caused by his operation and convalescence was enlivened by lectures from various consultants who seemed to blossom and bloom before an audience of young ladies and we discovered the joys of the Manchester ice skating rink.
As part of our Medical Block we each had a day with a health visitor in various parts of the Manchester area. Mine was in Levenshulme and it was an eye opener to poverty and squalor beyond my ken. The first three houses saw us coming and we didn’t gain entry – a frequent occurrence apparently. The next one had just won £400 on the Football Pools – a sort of lottery of the day - and the dank, odorous room was at odds with the newly purchased bright green Rexene suite, draped with damp clothes and nappies that had all merged into the same greyish hue. There were about four small children – in various stages of undress and a new- born baby. The mother was quite amiable but looked worn out and it was clear she had no intention of attending any clinic. Afterwards the Health visitor told me that when the mid-wife asked the mother what had happened to her stitches she said her husband removed them because they hurt him.
Later in the day, we all recounted our experiences to Sister Tutor and , for once she hung on our every word and actually laughed out loud a couple of times.
On the home front, the other Granddad was dying. Dad sat up with him till 5am and when I went over Dad’s youngest brother cried. I was sorry I never got to know Granddad better but he was so distant and I could never imagine hugging him as we do all the time in the family. Mum was thrilled with her first grand-son and I wondered if there was any truth in the belief that someone has to make room for the new arrival.
There had been the odd letter and phone call form Andrew and we arranged to meet again at the next dance. David (one of my patients) had sent me a beautiful blue stoned brooch which looked great with the deep blue dress I wore for Maddie’s wedding but I was feeling nervous after such a long break. Everybody knew everything in the Nurses home and I dreaded the public reunion. By the time I mustered courage Andrew was dancing with one of the senior nurses and I took fright and fled. Dashing for the stairs I tripped over the hem of my dress and fell flat.
‘Pat are you alright?’
I looked up and there was Andrew looking concerned.
‘I thought you were a mirage – one moment you were there and by the time I had made my excuses you were gone.’
‘You were dancing and I’d forgotten something…’
‘It was a ladies-excuse- me silly.’
He helped me up and kept his arms around me so we sidled on the dance floor so as not to be so conspicuous. From then on all was dreamy and next time he took me to the Café Royal for dinner and brought me chocolates and said he thought he must love me a lot. On Valentine’s Day I got a lovely card from him and one from MTL.
I was longing to see my little nephew and heard the Girl’s Friendly Society could put me up. My return ticket to Oxbridge was the princely sum of £1- 2s – 7d. I told Andrew I was going to see MTL – a family friend, kissed him good-bye and promised to write.