Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Flo – Florence Nightingale has always been a hero of mine; I even wrote a play about her. This involved a fair bit of research so I quickly learned that she was more of a brilliant administrator than a ministering angel; indeed Parthe, her sister, complained bitterly about Florence’s nursing abilities when under her care. She was a pioneer of the nursing profession and earned it the respect it deserved; she was a great reformer of public health in general and hospital sanitation in particular. She had learned about this the hard way in Scutari during the Crimean War. She was also a first rate statistician.

Many books have been written about her achievements and some have tried to tarnish her image. There was the view that Florencelooked down on Mary Seacole, the black nurse who treated Crimean war soldiers’ and Mary’s reputation soared to the detriment of Florence’s.

Richard Brooks, writing in the Daily Telegraph about a new biography by Mark Bostridge has as a headline: ‘Lady of the Lamp’ was on a nightly sex patrol,’

She ’toured the wards at night not to cast a caring eye over sick soldiers but to check that her nurses were not drinking with them or sharing their beds.’

Even as late as the forties and fifties matrons and sisters were intensely concerned with the behaviour of the nursing staff. How much more essential it would have been in the 1850’s when nurses were looked upon as Sara Gamps. And I’m perfectly sure she was also caring for her boys, for whom she had a great affection.

And as for the supposed rivalry betwixt the two nurses – ‘Bostridge has found out that Nightingale helped her financially when she faced bankruptcy.’

Bully for Bostridge and good on you Flo!

Jo – Joanna Lumley is a great one for crusades and I don’t always agree with her but this time I think she’s right on the money. Since I was a teenager I have had a great respect for the Ghurkhas. A member of my family and an old friend fought with them and had nothing but praise for them as valiant soldiers and decent human beings. It seems incredible to me that having fought for us, suffered for us and – in some cases given their lives for us, they are not allowed to live here. Shame on us.


Kim Ayres said...

I must admit I was gobsmacked when I heard about the Ghurkas not automatically being given the right to reside in the UK. Shame on us indeed

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What is the reason for the Ghurkas not being allowed to live in the U.K.? That sounds terrible.
I am sorry I don't know anything about this...I should Google this...!

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for certain nurses. Not all, mind you, but my experience with a number of nurses gave me such great respect for who they were and how much they give to their patients. When my mother was dying...She had three
"Specials" each on an eight hour shift. These women were older and were REAL R.N.'s and they were so wonderful to my mother...I will never forget them. And that was many many yeas ago...1966.
I know very little about Flo, but whatever I have known, gave me great respect for her, too!
Nursing: A Noble Profession.
I bet you were a WONDERFUL Nurse, Pat.

R. Sherman said...

I know but little about the Ghurkahs beyond a few tidbits from school. Now I have to go do a little light internet reading to catch up.


sablonneuse said...

I remember hearing on television about the Ghurkas some time back. Yes it is very unfair of the government - but then, I'm beginning to think this is all we can expect from most politicians nowadays.

PI said...

Kim: I think it's up to the law courts now.

Naomi: It's because originally they were based in Hong Kong rather than Britain. Google will probably explain it better than me. They are less emotional than I am.
It must be a great comfort that your mother had loving care. We would all hope to have that in our last years but these days who knows?

Randall : I'm confident that you will end up knowing more than any of us. You have that marvellous instant comprehension. That's your gift.

Sandy: My money's on Joanna!

Kath said...

My husband fought and trained with the Ghurkhas at various times in his career. He said they were tough as nails and extremely loyal. It saddens us that they are treated this way. Such good people.

PI said...

Kath; I'm thrilled that Royal knows them. How marvellous!

Guyana-Gyal said...

About people bad-mouthing women like Florence Nightingale...haven't you noticed, it doesn't matter how much good work someone does, there's always another person out there who will try to bring him / her down.

Some folks need to do this to feel better about themselves...seeing others doing good work makes them feel dreadful.

I know this sounds simplistic but when you observe people you learn that the truth is mostly quite simple.