Category Archives: Memories

Thirty-two-year catch-up…

Wiping tears from my eyes, I picked the next envelope from the pile—

The messages of condolence with their sincerity had touched me and I braced myself as I examined this card’s neat handwriting —

“Dear Marilyn and Richard,

I hope you don’t mind me writing to you and trust you are both well—

Last week, several of the Nurses, including Tina, Jean and Sheila, were talking about days gone by — your name was mentioned and we all wondered how you and Richard are……”

My gaze skipped over the rest of the message as I looked to the bottom of the page for the signature:

“……Hoping to hear from you, Lesley.”

Suddenly, I was transported back to 1966 and our home at that time; the Spa Nurses Home in Bath.

At seventeen, we were too young to be enrolled as Pupil Nurses at St. Martins Hospital so shared rooms in the Cadet Nurses’ wing for the year before we could enter the following intake at the Pupil Training School to embark on an SEN course—

The room I was allocated was just across the corridor from Lesley and Tina’s—

Oh, the memories that came flooding back! Being fitted for our mauve-and-white striped uniform dresses, starched linen caps, wonderfully warm navy-blue capes with their red fleecy lining and cross-over straps and heeding the advice to equip ourselves with sensible, flat, lace-up shoes— Meals taken in the grand dining room— a coach ferrying us to the hospital at 7.45 each morning and returning us at 5pm each afternoon, Mondays to Fridays. Duties we were proud to be a part of on the wards as we were initiated and prepared for our future roles as Pupil Nurses when uniforms would change to green-and-white stripes and work rotas would include split-shift patterns and night duty.

Once we had been upgraded to the ranks of Pupil Nurse, we were delighted to find that the friendship which had developed between Lesley, Tina and myself in our junior posts had been recognised and we were allocated a three-bedded room on the first floor of the Nurses’ Home.

I read the rest of the message with its snippets of news —

How had we lost touch in the years since we completed our training and went our separate ways? I remembered Lesley coming to see me when my children were very young and my return visit to her after her son was born—

When was that—?

Oh—my diaries—-

It wasn’t long after I’d passed my driving test (— I recalled feeling nervous about travelling from Somerset to Wiltshire so soon after being awarded my full driving licence —) so that made the hunt through my personal journals easier — 1984 — Eureka! October 23rd — a Tuesday!

I put pen to paper and the words which flowed from the nib spoke of my delight in hearing from her, how my spirits had been lifted in the sadness of this period of my life, how well I remembered all those she spoke of in her reminiscences, how the thirty-two years since we last met seemed to have melted away, how I reflected with fondness on those good times, fun times— Proper nursing. With proper thermometers!

Off to the mailbox, post-haste —-

Last night, the phone rang —-

“I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear from you!” Lesley’s voice trilled—

An hour-and-a-half of catching-up later, I asked when she had written her letter as the postmark was illegible and it had been forwarded to me, together with a batch of Sympathy cards, by the occupiers of my previous address—

“I wrote it a few weeks ago,” she replied,  “—and what you’ve just told me has given me goosebumps!”

“Why?” I queried.

“Well, I’ve got friends staying with me for a few weeks while they’re waiting to move into a new house. Since they’ve been here, their son, who lived abroad, has tragically lost his life. This morning I picked up a bundle of mail from the doormat  — it was mostly addressed to my friends and consisted of more Sympathy cards. Your letter to me, though, was nestled amongst them—-“

Having pledged that we will ever more stay in touch and arranging to meet up soon, we ended the telephone call—-

—and I was left pondering that life is full of mysterious occurrences that cannot be explained — No matter, though— long may there be those little twists and turns and things that make us wonder—

—and the venue for our get-together—? It’s got to be the former Nurses’ Home, now the 5-star MacDonalds Bath Spa Hotel although the tariffs for the sort of full-board we took forgranted in those memorable days may be out of our price-range so we’ll just settle for coffee and cake— 😉 xx

My child-minding CV ….

dishwasher

A recent conversation reminded me of this little story—

Diary entry: Tuesday 14th November 2000 —

Picked Charlotte up from school then took her to Girls Brigade 5pm. Got fingers stuck in dishwasher —

I was looking after my six-year old grandaughter and three-and-a-half year old grandson, Tom, while my son and daughter in law had gone to visit relatives two hundred miles away in Colchester—

Charlotte was at a Girls Brigade band practice meeting and I was at their home preparing Tom’s tea while he watched TV in the lounge—

Oh!— No plates in the cupboard —

Ah!— they’ll be in the new dishwasher— Having just had a stylish kitchen fitted, this piece of equipment was now their pride and joy—

Hmmm—how do I open it—?

I spotted two little holes on the ‘dashboard’—

Inserting each of my index fingers, I pulled down—

Nothing happened—

Another tug — it still didn’t open—

Maybe there’s another way —

I tried to remove my fingers from the holes— ouch! — they wouldn’t budge!

‘How ridiculous—‘ I thought— ‘they went in there; they’ve got to come out—‘

I tried to wriggle and jiggle my fingers but they were well and truly jammed—

‘Now what—?’

“Tom,” I called, calmly.

He came into the kitchen.

“Tom, my fingers are stuck — I need to phone Grandad at work. Can you fetch my handbag and get my mobile phone out for me, please?”

He brought my bag to the table and fumbled about in it until he found my Nokia.

“Just put it on the worktop beside me—”

It was locked. Using my chin, I tried to press the keys to unlock it — my efforts were futile.

No need to panic— my daughter in law’s sister lived in the house opposite— there was just a narrow footpath dividing the properties—

“Tom, I need you to take a dining room chair to the front door, then stand on it and undo the Yale lock. Click it back so that the door won’t lock because then I need you to get off the chair, open the door and go over to Auntie Tracey’s and ask her to come over—”

“Alright, Nan—”

I could hear the chair being dragged into the hallway and called out a repeat of what I needed him to do—

‘Oh, please don’t let the door lock behind him —‘ — with him out of sight, my thoughts were now in turmoil— ‘I’ve just sent a three year old out into a dark, November night and I don’t even know if she’ll be home—‘

My heart rate, I know, had quickened as I waited anxiously for him to return—

It seemed an age but in minutes he bounced back into the room with Tracey in tow—

Her greeting can only be described as peals of laughter —

Then, “What have you done—?” followed by another round of shoulder-shaking chuckling as she attempted to free my fingers from their trap —

“Tracey, it’s not funny— I need you to unlock my phone—”

She tried to phone my husband but the line was engaged— several recalls resulted in the same tone—

“I’m going to phone the Fire Brigade,” she announced.”They have cutting tools—”

She made the 999 call —

“Trace, I really need a cigarette—”

She found the pack in my bag — more frivolity from my carer as she questioned how I would manage to smoke it —

“Well, you’ll have to light it and hold it while I puff—”

Whilst carrying out this exercise, she tried my husband’s work number again and got a reply— she explained the situation and how she had actioned it by phoning the Fire Brigade— before she had finished the conversation, the doorbell rang and two Firemen came into the kitchen —

“We’ll soon get you out of there—” soothed one—

They then took turns at trying to gently free my now extremely painful and swollen fingers but to no avail—

“We’ll have to smash the panel—” said his colleague —

—by now two more Firemen were standing in the doorway—

“No! Please, don’t break her brand new dishwasher!” I pleaded—

One of the newcomers came across to assess the situation —

“I think I can see how to do it,” he said—

Some manipulation with a screwdriver loosened the panel and suddenly I was free!

How sweet the feeling of relief—!

“Thank you so much!” I wanted to hug them— “I can’t believe you’ve come with a full crew, though— I just hope my family aren’t driving down the road at the moment and see a Fire Engine outside their house—”

“Oh, there’s two Fire Engines and an Ambulance is on its way,” the Officer replied “The lady who phoned said you were stuck in the dishwasher!”

(I can only imagine the picture they had in their mind as they sped to the address!)

The next day I bought my little grandson a box of Cadbury’s Heroes — just because he was one— xx

Fire engine

 

6th June….

With the greatest respect for those (many in their 90s) who have filled the news channels today with their recollections of this day in 1944 —- and their comrades who are not here to share their memories—–

Thank you, for your courage, commitment, dedication and sacrifice in all that you faced in battle on the Normandy beaches, that we may have what we have today—- In humility xx

 

Forty years ago—

1974 diary 001

“Why would anyone keep a document of their whole life?” my astounded ten year old grandson asked when I pulled a 1974 diary from my bag.

It was my youngest son’s fortieth birthday and earlier in the day (across the Monopoly Board set out between us [which was fast reminding me that the origin of its name may have been closely linked to the word ‘monotony’–!]) that same grandson had asked, “What time was Dad born?”

—so in the evening, when we visited for a slice of Birthday Cake and a family get-together, I produced the diary to show the entry announcing that he had entered the world at 04.25am weighing eight pounds and two ounces—–

Maybe one day my grandson will realise that, as we get older, we forget some of the detail of events, dates on which things happened, holidays we took, times spent with friends and aquaintances and diaries open the way for those memories to be rekindled—

Well, the journal was examined by my sons, and sparked their own recollections of places we went, things we did, in those early days of their childhood.

Frequent entries on Saturdays— ‘bought 1 cwt Coke — £1.52’ — had them puzzled: until I explained that it wasn’t Coca-cola but fuel for the coke burner in the kitchen which was kept going all year as it provided all our hot water—-

The Household Accounts section at the back of the book intrigued them as they read the typical weekly spend:

  • Food:                        £9.09  (and a halfpenny!)
  • Milkman:                  £1.42 (daily pintas delivered to the door)
  • Club:                          £1.00 (bunk beds ordered from a home-shopping                                                             catalogue)
  • Newsagent:                   .30p (daily deliveries)
  • Stamps:                          .21p (and a halfpenny)
  • Chemist:                         .19
  • School expenses:     £1.30 (.60p a week for school dinners for one child ,                                                          .70p a week playschool fees)
  • Rent:                            £3.76
  • Coke:                            £1.52
  • Gas meter:                 £2.00

Weekly Total:            £21.49

We didn’t have a car then so there was no petrol expense and occassional entries showed that I bought ‘a dozen towelling nappies for £3.95’, school plimsolls for my daughter cost .39p and shoes for my two-year old son were £3.00. The carpet we had fitted in our lounge / diner was £62——-

Hmmm—– with my four children aged five, four, two and and the arrival of a new baby keeping me busy at home, we just had my husband’s wage of about £30 a week plus Family Allowance, the allocation of which, I seem to remember, was £1.80 for each child except the eldest—-

How times change—— the cost of living has certainly risen, but it’s all relative when compared to the increase of income —–

—-so, little man, that’s why ‘the whole of my life is documented’ —– 😉  It’s so that, in years to come, when I’m not here to tell you, you can look back and see how different things were in my day —-

(—-possibly the only thing that will stay the same is the price of property on that Monopoly Board!!!! ) 😉 xx