Today I had a precious conversation with an ex nurse in her 90’s and I often wish that I can capture our conversations and the memories she shares – well she has written one of her memories down and was happy for me to share it (although it took me a while to explain what a blogg was!)
Photograph shows vera Britian who was a voluntary aid detachment nurse in 1933
‘What a Fright I had!
I started nursing in 1933 when I was 18. One was required to have London Matriculation and pass a Hospital Entrance Exam. I started at the Evelina Hospital for Sick Children in Southwark Bridge Road. The discipline was iron and a very high standard of behaviour was expected of student nurses. All nurse, doctors and students lived in quarters within the hospital. VERY different today.
I will now tell you about my fright. In my 2nd year as a probationer I was put on night duty and unfortunately got involved in a ‘prank’ with the medical students. In those days the staff laundry was done in the laundry by the Laundry Mistress and her staff. The bags of laundry were neatly tied up and left in the laundry corridor for dispersal on Monday morning. The medical students and I decided to mix up the laundry. We found the Medical superintendent’s and Matron’s laundry bags and put Matron’s long combinations and directoire knickers (with elastic to the knees and known to us as passion killers) in the Superintendent’s bag and his long johns etc in hers!
When Monday morning came this was reported to Matron who was not at all pleased and quickly found out who were responsible! The students were seen by the Superintendent, who was quite lenient with them, just giving them a warning. Matron sent for me and she clearly considered my crime a serious one: it was possible I would have to terminate my probationship. After telling me what she thought of the ‘prank’ she decided to send for my parents – by letter. During my off duty time I went home to Clapham and told my father all about it. He was secretly amused and said he would come and talk to Matron. He came and saw Matron, managed to smooth things over and – I was allowed to continue nursing: but it gave me a terrible fright.’
Well, why am I not surprised it was the medical students who she was involved with in the prank and that they got off lightly? – some things haven’t changed but the story is from another era. We should be very grateful that she was allowed to continue to train as a nurse because I know that many have benefited from her care during her nursing career.