Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Post Script.
Just before Jamie drops out of the story for the time being - I would like to assert that in the last 27 years MTL has made up for his earlier behaviour in every possible way and although - God kmows, he isn't the Saint he would like to be thought of - he is all I could wish for.

Early one morning,
Just as the sun was rising,
I heard a maid sing in the valley below:
‘Oh, don’t deceive me;
Oh, never leave me!
How could you use a poor maiden so?’

I was in town, shopping with Maddie when she suddenly said,

‘See that blonde over there?’

I looked and saw an attractive woman with bleached hair.

‘Yes! What about her?’

‘She looks like the woman Jamie’s been seeing.’

When I had got over the shock I begged Maddie to tell me all she knew. She was probably regretting having said anything but gradually she gave me snippets of information so I could piece them together and get some sort of understanding.
He had met her sometime in the summer. She was a sexy older woman, married with a young child. She fell hook, line and sinker for Jamie. She knew about me and was aware of when he came up to see me. She was a very determined woman and made up her mind she was going to have Jamie and left her husband and child to pursue him.

For his part Jamie was twenty two, very vulnerable as far as sex was concerned and aware that it would be at least a couple of years before we could be married. He was in debt and I earned peanuts. I don’t think he stood a cat in hells chance to resist such a temptation. The odd friend who had met me remonstrated with him but whether Maddie and Paul did I have no idea. They obviously knew – hence the odd hints they dropped which had unnerved me. At one time they had jokingly suggested I ask Jamie why he would never play the trumpet again. He was living a double life, drinking too much through stress and had got into a fight which resulted in a broken tooth.

It puzzled me that they took it so lightly. As far as Maddie was concerned I was just her kid sister – not to be taken seriously and I hadn’t told anyone of Jamies’s proposal and my acceptance.

It took me a while to absorb all this information and slowly I began to get angry. I was angry with this woman for deliberately setting out to seduce Jamie when she knew he had a girlfriend; I was angry with Jamie for being weak and allowing me to think it was all my fault and I was angry with myself for being such a stupid , deluded, virginal idiot.

The anger was cleansing and eradicated the self-pity and despair. I thought of the strength of Mum and Gran. No man was going to ruin my life. I had been happy before and I would be happy again – eventually. I decide to remove all thoughts of Jamie from my conscious mind and attempt never to take anyone or anything for granted again. Meanwhile I was going to get on with my life – finish my training and plan the future. My immediate problem was what to do with my fortnight’s holiday.

Our set had by now halved with nurses leaving, unable to withstand the stresses and strains of hospital life. Ginny had met a boy and was getting very serious so she wasn’t available for a holiday trip but lately I had been working with Kate another member of our set. She was a really good person without being pi and I found her comforting to be with. She told me about Plas: a Christian Fellowship House in Wales nestled in the mountains. There were outdoor activities and she warned me – prayers morning and evening. She showed me a snap of it and when she invited me to join her in February I jumped at the chance. Snowdon here I come!

Below: - Plas and Kate
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Sunday, August 27, 2006


The Christmas Ball was looming. I had always loved our dances and the Christmas Ball was the highlight of the year. Jamie said he was definitely coming and I looked forward to showing him off – I was so proud of him. Then he didn’t think he could make it; he had so much work to catch up on. By now I really hoped he wouldn’t but then at the last moment he said he was coming but would only stay for one night and could we stay with the Millers? I didn’t feel I could ask them at this late date so I ignored his request.

As soon as he arrived – resplendent in his DJ, I knew it wasn’t going to be a happy evening. There seemed to be a great wall between us and I felt sick in my stomach with a feeling of foreboding. Over supper he said that my projected visit to Oxbridge for my holiday wasn’t perhaps a good idea as he was so busy revising and catching up on practical work. If I were there, he said, he wouldn’t get anything done.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse he rocked me on my feet by saying

‘I might go abroad. No-one would miss me.’

It felt like I had been stabbed in the heart and I was so choked with emotion I couldn’t speak for fear of screaming at him. Looking back I realise that he was far more needy than I had ever imagined. Maybe he also had heard whispers and had doubts and uncertainties. I had told him that one night – fed up with having none of my set around I went to see the film ‘The Third Man’ with a junior houseman. It was totally innocent – like going to the flicks with my brother. Surely he trusted me?

Ginny was on night duty and I had promised to take Jamie round just to say hello. We had to be discreet and met her on the ward balcony. I was thankful it was dark because she said,

‘It won’t be long now before Pat comes down to Oxbridge and then you’ll have two whole weeks together.’

Neither of us said anything.

When we got home everybody was in bed and I suddenly felt deathly tired.

‘Jamie – do you mind if I don’t get up in the morning?

His face crumpled and I moved towards him.

‘Please come and see me off,’ he said.

He put his arms around me and clasped me close and I could feel his hands pressing my body closer and closer until I could hardly breathe.

‘Yes alright then Jamie I will. Let me go please. I’ll see you in the morning.’

For once I was grateful for Gran’s snoring which drowned my stifled sobs.

Mum was just leaving for work when I got up in the morning. She took one look at my ravaged face and said.

‘What’s the matter Pat?’

I shook my head – afraid to start speaking and she said,

‘If he’s hurt you your Daddy will kill him.’

That’s when I realised that despite family and friends, ultimately we are all alone. This was my mess and I had to deal with it. The journey to Manchester was a blur and at the Bus Station there was an undergrad he knew and Jamie told me not to bother to wait. As I walked away from him – I’m sorry there is no other way I can describe this – I felt my heart break.

I didn’t know what to do. The thought of going home or to hospital was unbearable so I phoned Mrs Miller and she invited me round. During the day, with the children I was fine but after they had gone to bed we were listening to some music – I think it was Mahler’s Fifth and the tears started flowing and I had to tell them what had happened. Maria told me afterwards that Hector had been very upset and I realised that I had to get a grip or I would drive everyone mad – including myself

I wrote to Jamie and told him that I still cared for him but felt if it wasn’t the same for both of us it wasn’t going to work. I had a letter back reluctantly accepting this. I experienced the length, breadth and depth of misery. The worst part was the awful guilt I felt. Most of us have been dumped at some stage in our lives but there was this feeling that I had been given something precious and through my selfishness and bad behaviour I had ruined it.

Typically as my friends came off night duty, I went on and the moment came when I -in charge of the poison cupboard keys- had a bottle of phenobarbitone in my hand and for a nano-second wondered how many it would take. Then I thought of Mum and Dad and put the bottle back.

Around about this time there was an outbreak of typhoid as a result of a large firm’s dinner where the food had been infected. The Fever Hospital was in desperate straits and I went to Matron and volunteered to go and work there until the crisis was over. She was very sweet but would not allow me to go.

Jamie had loved my hair long so I chopped it off. And then I heard some shocking news that gave me the kick up the back-side that I needed.
Jamie liked my hair long - so I chopped it off.  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 26, 2006



Note to my grand-son on doing rather well in GCSES.

‘Well done darling.  Aren’t you glad you’ve got Grandma’s brain? (Joke)

I’ve often wondered what happened to it. (No joke)

Have a good, safe Bank Holiday everybody – we tend to ignore them and lie low.

Sam: next story post - Monday.  Next weekend we go to a cottage on Dartmoor for a week so want to leave the story in a comfortable place – so to speak.

Friday, August 25, 2006



When I heard Andrew’s voice I longed to ask him how he was but a shutter came down in my brain - I had enough problems – I couldn’t risk complications.

‘No Andrew – I haven’t changed my mind.  Don’t worry about the dance I promise I won’t be there.’

A few days later I was told a number of times that Andrew had been at the dance.  One cheering thing – we had the results of the exam we took at Fever Hospital and I got 95%.  I looked forward to seeing Matron and basking in her approval for a change but she was on holiday.  Over a week elapsed before I heard from Jamie and then he said he was coming up.  I had started to get pre-visit nerves and this time had violent stomach pains on my day off.  Mum got the doctor who examined my poetry book and then examined me but NAD - nothing abnormal was discovered.

Diary entry autumn 1949
‘Feel excited about Friday but scared of anything going wrong and when he has gone back it will be so awful.’

My spirits alternated between elation and desolation and I longed to be on an even keel once more.  Sometimes I would say something that made him laugh and he would look at me with love and I would be happy again.  I told him about Andrew- I told him everything – there had to be complete trust.

Maddie went down to Oxbridge to join Paul for her birthday and when she came back I asked her about Jamie – looking to her for reassurance and there was none forthcoming – just vague hints.

‘He’s waiting for you to grow up.’ she said.

Jamie’s birthday was coming up.  We had a colour that was special to us – a soft coral tan that was the shade of lipstick I used- Tangee.  Jamie had bought me a beautiful mohair scarf in the same hue and I found some wool the same colour and decided to knit him some socks.  Maddie was an ace knitter – her needles would fly through the air whilst the garment grew at an amazing rate.  I however was all fingers and thumbs, but it seemed to me to be an act of love to put myself through the torture of knitting.  On four needles.  I had to endure everyone’s ribbing (sorry) but eventually the socks were finished with just one small hole where there shouldn’t have been.  Once I had darned it you would never have known.

I took him to meet the Millers whilst we were in Manchester and they were – as usual – very warm and friendly.  That night Jamie wanted us to stay in Manchester but we couldn’t afford it and I really needed to see my parents.  Perhaps I was being selfish and earned his disapproval.  That night in bed I sobbed silently so as not to disturb Gran.

The next hospital dance I peeked through the windows and saw Andrew.  He looked drunkish.  He didn’t come to another dance after that.  

One night Jamie phoned twice and didn’t get me- I phoned back and he wasn’t there.  I spoke to his landlord and thought he sounded strange.  Eventually had a letter saying it would be better not to phone him as he had to be out a lot and he would phone me.  My state of mind was beginning to be affected.  I carelessly put my hand in Oxalic acid which was painful but caused no lasting damage. One of our long standing older patients who was very ill was threshing about a lot and bashed my face with her fist. To my shame I burst into tears.

We all dreaded going to work in theatre for the first time and sure enough that was going to be my next assignment.  The pressure was high and the two theatre sisters –excellent at their job took no prisoners.  The first few days went well and then we had to autoclave rubber gloves to sterilise them.  The gloves were in the dangerous drugs cupboard and the keys were missing.  The engineer was called to break open the cupboard and there were the keys – locked inside.  I had been the last person to have them.  I was going to get my wish to see Matron – but not for the right reason.

My health was suffering; my work was suffering- I couldn’t go on like this.  Something had to give.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006



My love is of a birth as rare
As’tis for object, strange and high:
It was begotten by despair
Upon impossibility.

Magnanimous despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing,
Where feeble hope could ne’er have flown
But vainly flapped its tinsel wing.

And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended soul is fixt,
But Fate does iron wedges drive,
And always crowds itself betwixt.

Andrew Marvell 17C

I had lost my heart to Jamie but somehow he had got inside my head and our relationship was out of balance.  It was that damned see-saw of love again, but this time I was way up in the clouds; losing control and totally dependent on his smile or nod of approval.

We had to make do with fleeting visits when Jamie would try to hitch-hike  – sometimes with Paul who also was back at Oxbridge.  These had to coincide with my days off and it was a long way to come for such a short time.  Things didn’t always go according to plan and there would be times when I was kept on duty and Jamie left, twiddling his thumbs at home.

My next holiday was in February – some months off – but we planned I should join him in Oxbridge then.  That was something to really look forward to.  Jamie was in his final year and I had a further year after he graduated.

There was plenty to keep me occupied – work on the wards and endless revising and writing up notes, as well as working on the play we were doing for Christmas.  Social life was sparse as Ginny was on night duty.  Two other close friends were either at Fever Hospital or the Baby Hospital which was part of our training.

My only contact with Jamie was by letter and the odd phone call.  The only link was Paul and I received odd snippets of news from Paul via Maddie which were not always reassuring.  Nothing concrete – just vaguely disquieting.

Maddie and I weren’t getting on too well.  Looking back I realise that life wasn’t too easy for her at this period.  I seemed to be having all the fun whilst she was stuck at home with the baby.  She coveted a Prince of Wales check suit I had and wanted to borrow it for a trip to Oxbridge.  In return she would lend me her black suit.  I kept my side of the bargain but Maddie changed her mind when it came to the black suit.  I think the aunts didn’t approve but anyway I flew off the handle - Maddie cried and I ended up in the dog-house.  Normally this would all be part and parcel of sibling rivalry but I earned Jamie’s disapproval and was shattered. I did behave badly but I thought I had reason to.  I have since learnt always to try ‘to rise above it.’

Once when Jamie came up I had bought a pretty beanie hat in a cool dove grey.  He frowned and said we were meant to be saving up.  He was still very loving but I began to feel I was walking on egg-shells and my spirits would plummet if I saw his frown.

The monthly dances started up and one evening I just happened to answer the phone in the Nurses Home.  It was Andrew.  He said he was coming to the next dance in his role of Entertainments Officer so I reassured him that I wouldn’t be there.  Then he asked me how I was and had I changed my mind?

Monday, August 21, 2006


I was a little nervous about this next stretch as it was 5 miles and it is some time since I have walked so far. I have a bad habit of yacking to all and sundry whilst walking and this has resulted in three separate leg fractures. My bone density is fine – no osteoporosis but sheer b----y carelessness ranks high on my register. However I have learnt to be careful and I had son No 1 and two teen-age grandchildren to keep an eye on me.

We left Bicknoller, carefully crossed the A358 and then the West Somerset Steam Railway line. Sadly the train had passed by the time I got the camera out but I was assured it was a diesel not a steam. It is a privately owned steam railway running regular services from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and all our children love it. Eventually we reached the village of Sampford Brett with its 13th C Church – St George’s.

After Aller farm we went through a kissing gate and along a bridle way. Through woods we came to a bridge where we had to transfer coins from one side to the other. Then up a long winding trail. Looking back one could see the sea to the left but visibility wasn’t great. The walk was punctuated with photo stops, talking to the animals and chatting to a lone walker. The pretty village of Monksilver with its 12 C All Saints Church built of red sandstone was our destination and we had a refreshing drink at the Notley Arms but son no 1- a real ale fan had chosen the Carew Arms at Crowcombe for lunch

I really enjoyed the walk – it was well within my capabilities especially with such company. Next stop Himalayas? A bonus at the pub was an excellent jazz band. There were lots of children and dogs racing round the garden and although we had a long wait for lunch the time passed pleasantly enough.
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COWS ARE SO NOSY  Posted by Picasa
ALL HANDS TO THE PUMP  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I noticed in Saturday’s DT Obits Mick Dillon aged 80 had died. I used to live in the same lane as him when I was modelling. Mick was a jockey, a stunt man and an actor and was the only man to double for Buster Keaton. He came from a delightful Irish family and what they didn’t know about horses and racing wasn’t worth knowing.

I first met his brother Dennis who was a jockey ‘over the sticks’. We were both on the same train from London to Epsom, got into conversation and discovered our gardens backed onto each others. Dennis was such a warm friendly person; he immediately cut a gate in the fence so we could mingle.

Mick and his wife Brenda also befriended us and when I was expecting my first child gave me a super scarlet and cream high chair which their children had out grown. He got into trouble with his mother who told him he should never give things to rich people. I was a model so of course I was rich. Unfortunately not then – not ever.

I had never met anyone quite like the brothers. They both had weight problems, their bible was the form book and they were enormous fun to be with. They were great family people and Mick told his wife I would only be really beautiful when I was pregnant. I certainly was different – 4 stones heavier.
Mick Dillon – a charming man. RIP

Friday, August 18, 2006


Thanks to Randall, readers will now find helpful information in the sidebar.



Story contd:-

I asked Matron if I could be off duty in the evening so I could go home with Jamie.  Fortunately she agreed.  It was always a given at my own hospital – that you would have the evening off before your day’s leave.  Later on we started shifts and could finish at lunch time, have the next day off and return at lunch time the following day – two nights at home which were much appreciated.

  I phoned the Millers and told them I couldn’t see them this week and they said the next time Jamie came I should take him round.  Apparently young David was still endlessly playing his new record –‘Sparkey’s Magic Piano.’  I certainly couldn’t get the tune out of my head.  The piano sings ‘I’ll play anything you want me to play…from now on.’ with a jangley, twangy voice that sounded like Cher with croup.

Jamie picked me up and we went home on the bus.  Only Gran was in so we made supper and she went to bed.  Then Evan came in and we had a coffee and he went to bed.  Finally Mum and Dad came in we chatted and they went to bed.  Jamie and I were allowed to stay up to do the washing up and sometimes we did.

Our time together was precious and brief.  We kept on the go so as not to fret about the inevitable separations.  Down we waltzed to the Aunts and had coffee with Maddie and Paul.  Maddie’s friend from Art School was staying – the vamp as I called her.  She was the one who leant over all the men at Maddie’s pre- wedding party (hen nights were unheard of)  with a tray of goodies asking ‘Can I tempt you?’

Back home Gran had left lunch for us and then we took the bus over the moors towards Burnley.  Between Toll Bar and Townley Park there was a farm up on the hill which served delicious teas.  It was long way from the road but there was a white painted sign on the roof announcing ‘     TEAS’.  There was time for a walk first and the tea lived up to its reputation.

Walking back we came upon the Townley Arms and spent an hour or two playing cricket and drinking cider.  There was no sign of a bus so we started the long walk home.  When we came to the wide corner where there is s sort of balcony overlooking the wildest, dourest part of the moors – no Lakeland beauty here – Jamie put his hands on my shoulders and asked me to marry him and I said ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’

It was a surprise – he was starting his final year, had quite a few debts, his parents were not rich and had three sons to educate so he had no visible means of support until he started earning.  I still had eighteen months to do but was earning - if only a pittance.  Jamie said we should keep it a secret for the time being.  I wanted to shout it from the house tops but agreed to be discreet.

We started the long trek home – sometimes running with me falling over and Jamie picking me up – and finally made it.  Everybody was there – including Beryl who wondered if all the hairy ties the men were wearing denoted some sort of club.  (They were the ones I had brought as gifts from the Lakes.  Mum stared at me – she could tell I was very excited but I gave nothing away by mouth.  When everyone had gone and we were metaphorically doing the washing up – Jamie kissed me and I fainted.

When I came to Jamie was worried and wanted to get Mum but there was a simple explanation.  My face was quite a bit smaller than Jamie’s and he had managed to totally block my airways.  So I wasn’t behaving like a Victorian miss and it wasn’t the kiss of death.  We said goodbye in Manchester the next day.  It had been a wonderful couple of days.  The future looked bright but it was a mirage.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Was amused over the week-end to note an agony aunt’s incredulity at the fact that a woman, who was in her seventies, lived in a nursing home and couldn’t walk very far, was having a sexual relationship with a fit 80 yr old who lived independently. The lady who lived in a nursing home was feeling jealous that her boy friend went walking with another fitter seventy year old.

Was not amused to hear of another 70 yr old woman who has always worked, lived and looked as if she was twenty years younger. She developed a spinal condition which was treated with massive pain-killers to little effect. She learnt that she could be surgically treated with an excellent prognosis but was asked did she at 70, think it was worth it. I’m happy to say yes she bloody well did, had the operation and is now doing very nicely thank you. Maybe seventies are the new fifties?

I did feel sorry for a friend of a friend - Maud who is in her nineties and was finding getting in the bath difficult. Her son insisted she should have a walk-in bath and took her to the relevant shop in the High Street. They only had one in the shop and it was in the shop window. The son and the assistant insisted she should try it out and very reluctantly she did. Once ensconced she was mortified to see her personal bete noire approaching the window and the BN did the most wonderful double take until she got the full glare from Maud and realised she had better do an eyes down and carry on.

Then there is Hoss who has just got married aged 75 – a lesson to us all.

‘If you prick us do we not bleed?’
Will the Shake.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006



Sunday was cloudy and lowering so we nipped over the border in to Devon and dropped in to the secret valley of Brendon.  As we crossed Exmoor Wales was clearly visible across the Bristol Channel.  At the bottom of the hill in Brendon I examined the wall which hit my car when I was taking three ‘girls ‘out for the day.  It was some time ago now but it still bugs me.

Losing a hub cap and busting a tyre was bad luck but what really upset me was the fact that one of the girls had just had a new hip and I was afraid the jolt would have hurt her.  She of course is tough as old boots and the way they all clucked round me reassuring me, one would have thought that I was the sufferer.

However I noticed that the wall does jut out beyond the posts so there!  We groaned when we saw a notice proclaiming that today was Brendon Show Day. But were relieved when we saw a further notice in Brendon saying it was a further two miles.  The Stag Hunters and a little foray was our aim so all was well.

The food as usual was very good but the tarte citrone deserves a mention.  There were some odd figures around to raise money for the village hall. And the cottage gardens were very pretty.  On the far side of the river from the pub is a lovely riverside walk – the river a dashing turmoil around the ancient rocks.  I’m glad we managed to take Mum and Dad on that walk whilst they were still with us.  Today we just pottered round the village and marvelled how peaceful it was.  Maybe they were all at the Show.

The heather is starting to bloom although in the twenty years we have been here it has dwindled somewhat.  When the heather and gorse are out together Exmoor looks like a rather garish patchwork quilt.  But I love it.  Last night (Monday) on TV there was a presenter and Ranger looking for our desperately shy red deer and – through the know-how of the Ranger spotted a herd.  Then the Ranger’s mobile went off and so did the herd.  My heart bled for him – silly sausage!
Some queer folk around

The rush hour
A noble stag
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Heather and gorse
Exmoor on a gloomy day
View from the bridge
The offending wall on the left
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Monday, August 14, 2006



Just my luck as I arrived at the Fever Hospital Ginny was leaving.  I had just been home for my day off but called in at my own hospital to collect any post.  There      was a letter and chocolates from Jamie.  He would be with me soon and I hoped he would find his way to this unfamiliar locality.

After my first day I decided that ‘I hate it, hate it HATE IT.’  There was some ‘horrible language’ on the wards and the wards themselves seemed grimy in comparison to our own pristine wards.  I had two ambulance trips to pick up patients and had to remember which admission department to go to according to the disease.  I think the Fever Nurses were used to this reaction from the Children’s Nurses and they did their best to make us welcome and help us to cope with the very different circumstances.  We were treated with kid gloves.

Soon we settled in and things began to improve but one morning I was asked to bathe a new admission with erysipelas.  He was very dark and extremely hairy and as I started to remove the bedclothes he grasped my hand and leered at me.  I wrenched my hand away and fled to the sluice.  Staff Nurse was great and told me not to worry – they got all sorts on the ward and I wasn’t asked to bathe a man again.

One night on the women’s ward there was a sweet grey-haired old lady with long plaits twined round her head.  We weren’t busy so remembering how Gran used to love me to brush her hair I asked her if she would like me to brush hers.  She nodded, with a sweet smile and as I let down her hair I realised with horror that it was alive.
With shaking hands I excused myself and went to report to Sister.  I was horrified and angry that this could happen.  In my own hospital each morning the junior nurse would go round with the head tray and examine the children’s heads.  Any nits were dealt with and treated immediately so there was no chance of cross infection.

At that time there was a lot of polio, or infantile paralysis as it was also known.  It was a viral infection of the nervous system and patients were treated by being put in an iron lung.  FDR Roosevelt developed polio in the early 1920’s and spent the rest of his life in a wheel chair.  One night when I was on duty, we got this pretty young woman admitted with suspected polio.  She was very distressed as she had twin babies and didn’t want to be separated from them.  The doctor told her firmly that she was very ill indeed and naturally she became more distressed.  I stayed with her as long as possible trying my best to comfort her and was totally shocked next morning to discover she had died during the night.

  It was all part of one’s nursing experience and I concluded that I didn’t want to do Fever Training and wondered if I really wanted to do my General.  I felt very fortunate to be nursing children.

One of the younger doctors was very attentive and asked me for a game of tennis but I was waiting to hear from Jamie and didn’t want any complications so politely refused.
At last a letter came to say he was arriving that day.   I sent a telegram to Mum to ask her to get Jamie to ring which he did at eleven thirty pm.  We arranged that he would come here for my evening off so I washed my hair before going to bed.

Next day was a lovely day and I had an ambulance trip to Knutsford to pick up a patient.  Off duty at 5pm and there was my darling in the waiting room.  We went to a place, incredibly named Bogart Hole Clough.  I remember it as a steep valley with lots of trees.  We walked dreamily and ended up in Manchester at the Blue Angel for a meal.  Then Jamie took me back to Hospital and we parted.  But only for a day.

Saturday, August 12, 2006



Every six weeks I do a stint at ‘Talking Newspaper’ where six of us (we are the A team) read items from our local newspaper whilst an engineer records us.  Then the tapes are delivered to local people who are visually impaired.  The powers that be don’t like us to read sensational stuff – under the erroneous impression that oldies will be shocked and we certainly don’t want to frighten them with dastardly crimes so a lot of it is run of the mill, births, deaths and council news.

In fifteen years I have disgraced myself a couple of times.  Once when I brought diet coke to whet my whistle – it exploded over the table holding our scripts and I got hiccups with giggling (now only water is allowed.)  and once when I became hysterical with laughter describing how someone was admiring a beautiful sunset through the frosted glass partition separating his dining room from his sitting room only to discover there was a small fire blazing away.  The fact that it could have had disastrous results only made my hysteria worse.

The other night I read about a Miss Onions who worked in a local super-market.  She and her boy friend were walking past the shops on their way home from the pub when they stopped to look in a shop window and admired a soft furry toy.  The toy suddenly moved and then darted out of the window display. It was a badger.  As they had both seen it they knew it wasn’t the drink so the shop owner was called along with an animal expert.  They surmised that although the back door of the shop had been open during the day – to combat the heat, there was no way the badger could have scaled the wall.  He must have wandered in through the front door – in full view of everybody – but obviously everybody had been looking elsewhere.

I had to brace myself because the story gets very sad now.  He must have been the runt of the litter as he had a wound on his back, was poorly nourished and had a heart murmur so had to be put down.

When we had finished recording one of the readers told us she was walking her dog alongside some cherry trees.  They were laden with fruit and the ground was carpeted with windfalls.  Suddenly she came across a family of badgers zonked out on the ground, They were completely oblivious to humans, dogs or the price of coal – legless on cherry brandy.
Have a nice week-end.

Friday, August 11, 2006



Most days I would have a letter – from family, friends or patients but the reason I dashed to the mail pigeon holes twice a day was to see if I could spot that bold, looped handwriting that was Jamie’s.  Meanwhile – as I had no address – the climbing club were wandering round Skye – I wrote to tell him what had happened with Andrew and anything else I thought might interest him.

On duty my six babies kept me happily occupied and at last there were two letters from Jamie and an address.  He had been upset when I didn’t turn up to see him off but realised it must have been impossible to get off duty.  We both had to take a lot of things on trust.  He had missed his footing on a climb called Bad Step Alasdair but the rope had held and he was fine.  This did little for my peace of mind.  I was touched that he asked me to send him one of my lipsticks – they were smaller in those days – so he could use it to stub down the tobacco in his occasional pipe.  Three times I sent one and three times it was returned so we had to abandon it.

On my day off Mum and Dad were still away on holiday so I spent it with Maddie and Paul.  Maddie told me that Paul reckoned he could tell if a girl/ woman had slept with anyone – he was certainly right about me.  They both said they were disgusted that the aunts hadn’t asked me to stay the night but the family next door to us were good friends and the daughter came to spend the night with me.

The next day Mum and Dad returned, Maddie and Paul came up and we were regaled with their adventures.  Dad would never let truth get in the way of a good story but we knew to take it all with a pinch of salt.  I had told Paul that Jamie had lost his mackintosh and he had brought up an old one of his which Mum promised to post to Jamie.  By the time Jamie received it he had been reunited with his own.  He had left it in a car whilst hitch –hiking and the driver had very kindly returned it – there was an address in the pocket - and told him to ‘look after that girl friend of yours’.

Most of my free time was spent writing to Jamie or thinking about him.  The word ‘soon’ was for ever in my mind like a mantra.  It was the word we used to comfort a child who wanted its mother or wanted to go home.  It would have to be my word now.  Soon, soon.

Diary entry August 1st 1949
Must remember to be happy, not to drip, mope or otherwise be wet.

I was made chairman of the Student Nurses Association and also as a member of the Dramatic Society was asked to put on a play for Christmas so there was plenty to keep me occupied.  I had a lovely trip to St Anne’s with the Miller family and we stayed at The Hotel Majestic and I showed them the Convalescent Home where I had started my training.  The children loved the beach and we had the usual car crisis with Hector driving back with no headlamps.

I missed Ginny – she was doing her stint at Fever Hospital – we all had to spend a month there as part of our training and I would be next.  As I planned to do General Nursing after Children’s it would be useful experience in dealing with adult patients.
Then there was a letter saying Jamie planned to return towards the end of August.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

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Past Imperfect is a true chronicle of my life and times.  At present in the story (1949) I am coming to the end of my second year training as a paediatric nurse.  In addition to my final year I have to do a further six months as one had to be aged 21 before one could become state registered.

My immediate  family consists of  Mum and Dad, Gran – who often visits her daughter Aunty Janet,( a GI bride) in the States, my younger brother Evan and my older sister Maddie.  Maddie is married to Paul and they have a young son, Matthew. Maddie left home aged six to be brought up by three maiden aunts – the Misses Davis who were no relation.

The Millers are a Jewish family who I met through nursing David – the son.  Hector and Maria, the parents, became good friends and I would often visit them on days off.  David had two sisters, Carmela and Hannah.
Annie is an old nursing friend from the Convalescent Home and Sarah is an old family friend who has shared walking holidays with me.

I first met Jamie when he and his brother Liam visited us en route to Scotland.  They were Oxbridge undergrads and  Maddie and Liam were friends.  I was fifteen and by the time I was nineteen Jamie and I had got closer, mainly by letter.  At the last Christmas Dance I met Andrew – a naval officer.  We became close and he proposed marriage.  I had already arranged to go on a walking holiday with Jamie, Ginny – a nursing friend and Alec Jamie’s friend.

During the holiday I realised that Jamie was the one I loved and with great sadness broke it off with Andrew.

I hope this is helpful.  As some of you know I also take time out to do a post or photo post on anything that interests me and, hopefully some of you.

Monday, August 07, 2006


P’s story continued:

It was the end of the holiday – I was due back at hospital and Jamie was meeting up with the Climbing Club in Skye.  That last morning Paul –who had joined Maddie acting as chaperones - brought me up a cup of tea in bed and then I went down and took one up for Jamie.  Mornings were not my best time so this was a measure of my devotion.

We had a last walk over the hills, had lunch, said goodbye to Maddie and Paul and then caught the 4.15pm bus to Manchester.  To take our minds of our sadness we went to the Odeon to see ‘Gatsby’ but Jamie had a headache so we came out and looked for aspirins.  We were trying to cling to the minutes.  The city felt hot and oppressive and there was no place to eat so we took the bus back to the hospital and sat in a field where a house was to be built.  I told Jamie of my fears – working with desperately sick children – what if I made a mistake – it was such a huge responsibility.  He tried to reassure me and we kissed good night.  I promised I would get the morning off next day so I could meet him at the bus station and wave him off to Scotland.

The first thing I did was look at the notice board to see I was on Borchardt Ward – the most harrowing ward – as relief nurse – and next day I was relief baby-nurse.  My heart sank, baby nurses could never have the morning off, with six babies to bath and feed there was just too much to do.  I couldn’t meet Jamie and had no means of letting him know.
Next day the frustration was awful as I pictured Jamie waiting fruitlessly.

Diary entry July 26 1949

Oh the agony of not being able to reach Jamie when I knew he was in Manchester.  Had evening off so at 5pm rang Andrew and told him to come as I wanted to talk.  We met at 6.45pm and he knew at 7pm.  He said he guessed something was up from the sound of my voice.  Walked, said not very much.  He behaved perfectly.  I had to accept chocolates and perfume.  Came in for eight pm after saying goodbye.  Feel quite sure in my mind and feel that the path is clear now.  Wrote to Jamie.

Jamie and I had discussed how I should tell Andrew.  Jamie was quite specific:  I should keep it brief – not go for a drink – not kiss him and so I was behaving like an automaton.  When I got back to the hospital I bumped into Nurse Mitchell who had passed us in the road.  She said we both looked terrible – as if someone had died.

I was really sad to lose someone with whom I had shared such light-hearted, happy times.  I love perfume but to this day I can’t use Chanel no 5.

Saturday, August 05, 2006



‘Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war’
William Shakespeare

Deciding to have an animal is as important a decision as deciding to have a child in my book.  So I decided to wait for motherhood.  However each time I have married, a dog has been part of the package and the first one was Havoc - oh so aptly named.  My mother in law to be, bred dogs and Havoc – a Pembrokeshire corgi was a gift to her son.  When I first met Havoc in deepest Norfolk she ruled the roost over two other dogs – Annette and Brunette. Annette was a fat galumphing dachshund who galloped everywhere with her ears flapping.  Brunette was a chocolate coloured, miniature dachs – completely neurotic who would stand with her front paw raised and shiver.  Havoc hated them both.

I was spending the week before the wedding with Ma in law to be, so we could get to know one another.  She was not without a sense of humour and asked me if I would take the three dogs for a walk.  No sooner had we got out of the drive than all hell broke loose.  They whirled round me like dervishes, snarling, snapping and yapping as only small dogs can.  Havoc of course was the instigator – I knew you should separate them by pulling on their tails – but she hadn’t got one.  A passing motorist took pity and stopped and soon we were both entwined in their leads.  Then Ma in law, having heard the row (thank God she had her deaf aid in) appeared with a large pepper pot, sprinkled it liberally over the melee and it was over.

When Havoc came to live with us, she captivated me and developed the ability to speak – through me – strangely with a broad Lancashire accent.  One day my husband was away and I didn’t want to leave her alone so took her with me for three auditions – I was modelling then – and got them all – because of her, I’m sure.  Suddenly one night when I was expecting my first child she died and we were heart broken.

The photograph was taken by Lisa Sheridan – Royal photographer.  The princesses, Elizabeth {our Queen) and Margaret used to call her Minister without portfolio. She was a great character – I often worked with her and her husband and they were parents to Dinah Sheridan of Genevieve fame – the film about a car with Kenneth More. There were lots of photos of Roger Moore who started out as a model before he became famous.

Havoc is buried in a garden in Epsom.  I wonder if the flowers still bloom.
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Friday, August 04, 2006



It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity . . . Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

At last we were home and it was really special having Jamie there with me.  Mum and Dad were very sympathetic about the loss of his grandfather and marvelled at all we had accomplished on our holiday.  I told them that if they hadn’t dragged me up the mountains when I was knee high to a grasshopper I wouldn’t have been up to it.  When Maddie appeared I told them that I was going to finish with Andrew.  We walked Maddie back to the aunts, and on the way back I phoned Andrew.  I told him I was back and would get in touch once I knew my off-duty and arrange to meet.  I had to tell him in person but I was dreading it.
Back home we had a lovely chat with Mum and Dad and then, exhausted went to bed – I in the room I shared with Gran (she was in the States) and Jamie who was in Evan’s room (he was on holiday.)  Next morning I saw my parents off on holiday, made breakfast and took Jamie up a cup of tea.  Jamie then went shopping and to have a hair cut.  Alas I had forgotten about Wakes Week and all the shops were closed and the Valley was earning its name – The Valley of Death.
Jamie geared for climbing and hostels was looking decidedly scruffy – especially in the trouser department so I purloined a pair of Evan’ s trousers – beautifully pressed – Mum was an excellent valet – and then he looked presentable if rakish.  The only time my sweet-tempered brother ever got angry with me was when he discovered what I had done.  We went to the Aunts for tea and came back with Maddie, our chaperone and her baby.  I enjoyed bathing and feeding the baby then Jamie and I went to the flicks – at least they were still open.  We walked back over the tops and Maddie had gone to bed.  Alone at last.  Mum had left a wimbry pie (a sort of blueberry grown wild on the moors) so we demolished it and talked and spooned and looked at the stars.
During the weekend we were often alone together late at night and as we got more passionate Jamie said that he respected the fact that we were in my father’s house and would not betray that trust.  I just wished I had a prettier petticoat than my mother’s which as too big for me and I had to knot the straps.  All I felt was a delicious, warm, oozy feeling.
The next day I took Jamie to a farm we used to stay at in the Ribble Valley.  They had known me since I was a child and I was proud to show off Jamie whilst Mrs Walker gave him the once over.  Always a bit unnerving as her eyes looked in different directions, but he passed muster and we were given a splendid lunch.
When we got home Maddie had been joined by Paul who had returned from down south.  I wondered how he would behave as originally it was he who stopped me going to the Commem Ball with Jamie.  However they seemed to get on – there was a lot of bonhomie and I cooked tomato omelettes for all.  Sometime over the weekend we went to look at the Unitarian Church where Maddie had been married.  That night we stayed up almost till dawn – our last night.  It was time to return to hospital. Get back to work and tell Andrew I couldn’t see him anymore.
I have my next post on Word and for some reason can't publish it. I am doing this from dash board as an experiment.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

PAST IMPERFECT"It's the dog's bollocks!"


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

DAD WITH NEW BABY  Posted by Picasa