MRS NINE TO FIVE
It felt great to be one of the grown up Work Force. Hitherto I had been a glorified school girl – resident in the work place and subject to rules and regulations. It was a new experience to be setting out in the early morning in my new brown uniform, which often elicited an approving smile. As I smiled back I prayed everyone would stay vertical. Only the few would realise I was children’s trained – not adult’s.
At the Hospital everyone was friendly and there was a more relaxed atmosphere in Out Patients. It was also much dirtier. There were no clean air restrictions and I had noticed in our eyrie, the window sills were covered with sooty, greasy grime which needed to be washed weekly. The poorer children often had dirty heads and impetigo was rife. One poor boy’s face and scalp were covered and each day I had to clean him up and then treat the area with gentian violet which made him purple from the neck up.
I sometimes think that, paradoxically, now people are cleaner, standards of hygiene have slipped. We certainly didn’t need to be constantly reminded to wash our hands or to keep our hair away from our faces and collars. No way would we risk getting nasty skin diseases, and pediculi in our hair. Chefs nowadays think nothing of beating a mixture vigorously with their floppy hair shedding its detritus to the mix.
We settled in to the attic room and I had to get used to doing a day’s work, keeping the flat clean, seeing to the laundry and cooking a meal. Our main relaxation was the cinema and the radio, both of which provided excellent entertainment. Dodie, William’s mother used to breed dogs and her off- spring were all over the country. She remembered ones she had had in Sheffield and more or less suggested they should get in touch with us which they dutifully did, and invited us for coffee.
It was the custom to give guests coffee – usually instant, and served in a blue or green Denby jug with biscuits or bits rather than alcohol. We were given little savoury biscuits with a tasty Polish ham garnished with bits of cucumber and from then on all my guests were served the same. Slowly I was learning to be a housewife and a hostess.
The people on the floor below, with whom we shared a bathroom, were very pleasant. The bathroom had a faulty lock and I was horrified one day to see a teapot spout appear round the door. My scream stopped it dead in its tracks and it vanished along with the very embarrassed husband. There were profuse apologies all round and a new bolt was fixed.
Life was quite hectic. Occasionally we would travel over to my parents and be pampered. Gran was back from the States and Maddie had a local job. Everybody was concerned that I had lost quite a bit of weight and I had to promise to go and see the doctor. My life had changed: although I had worked hard for years – nourishing meals were always provided and I had no housework or laundry to worry about. Then there was the sex. No wonder I was skinny!