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Recently I saw a recruitment executive on TV who was giving advice on how to write a CV.  He said that to write a CV which will be read was to keep it quite short, but interesting. He said that would be employers wanted to know not only your educational qualifications and a list of  jobs, but what extra skills you had learned from them. 

This set me thinking about my CV.  At first I thought I have only ever done nursing and midwifery, but then I thought again.

My first paid “employment” was when I was about 9 years old and I was paid five shillings (25p) for two hours.  This wasn’t exploitation of  a child as I did have quite good fringe benefits.:)

My employer,  my adopted grandfather, who had a printing business, invited me to help him with stock taking, (I think he was finding a way to keep me occupied in the holidays!).  He called out the quantities of paper and card and I wrote down the size , colour, and quality etc.  (Strangely enough I did a similar job many years later  for Himindoors when he had a small gallery, but I didn’t get paid for that!)

After about 2 hours we went for high tea at one of the teashops in town and then to the theatre to watch the first house of a variety show. We went regularly to the theatre with my mother, but  usually we were up in the “Gods”. With Grandpa we sat in the dress circle and at the interval we were served with a tray of tea and biscuits which was brought to our seats…sheer luxury! I think you will agree that the fringe benefits were pretty good. This became a regular holiday job  and we tried out all the best tea shops so I gained experience in several fields,  not only the obvious ones like counting and writing legibly,  but also as a restaurant and theatre critic and how to make 25p stretch an awfully long way!


I always said that poverty was relative.

Today I heard someone on TV give the following tip. When you open a bottle of wine to make the gravy don’t waste the rest of the bottle, freeze it in an ice cube tray and then you can use it for the next gravy you make!

I can’t think what I shall do with all the money I will save. 🙂

The strangely translated things my youngest grandson  comes out with sometimes reminded me of the message I took when I was a pupil midwife in the 60s. I was doing the district part of my training in North London and was based in a Midwives hostel where there were four midwives and four pupils. The pupils took it in turn to man the telephone and we also covered for each other if the booked midwife was out on an emergency call.

One afternoon I answered the telephone and received  the message, “Tell Sister K that Minnie is ready for delivery” and then he rang off, no surname or address, and in those days there was no ring back facility!

I rushed down to the office and rustled my way through Sister K’s patients files. No Minnies, no Wilhelmina’s or any other related names.

I called in the help of the other pupils and we went through every file, even those with due dates several months ahead, but drew a blank. There were no mobile phones of course and few of the patients had phones at home, so there was no way of contacting SisterK other than jumping on my bicycle and going to the patient she was attending.

They had just finished the delivery when I arrived hot and sweaty and feeling very agitated as I imagined poor Minnie all alone for her delivery. When I gasped out my message, Sister K first looked puzzled and then burst out laughing, as she explained that it was not Minnie but Mini….her new car which the garage wanted to deliver to her!

One of my nursing friends was one of those people to whom THINGS happen! She could turn any crisis into a drama. She is the one who washed all the thermometers in hot water, fortunately the days had passed when nurses had to pay for broken thermometers, but she had a sticky time explaining it to our rather humourless Sister. Her next misadventure was when she was told to clean the dentures of some of the elderly patients and she collected them all together in a bowl! True, some of the patients said their teeth fitted much better after they had been cleaned, but it took her some time to pair them and reassign them to their (sometimes new 🙂 ) owners.

 Another salubrious job we had as junior nurses was collecting the metal sputum cups every morning, emptying them and washing them,ugh. We were supposed to examine the contents for abnormalities but Kate was even more squeamish than the rest of us and just tipped them down the bedpan washer between stomach heavings. One day she heard a suspiciously loud plop and found to her horror that she had just thrown a patient’s glass eye down into the Birmingham sewers. He had mistaken the sputum pot for a container for his glass eye, which he had removed for the night! I don’t remember how she coped with that one, but she survived to move to our second ward.

One day I was just about to go into the dining room when she caught up with me. She had her cloak carefully wrapped around her and was in a bit of a state as she gasped out, “You haven’t got time for lunch, we have to go out!” As nurses were constantly hungry this had to be desperate so I followed her to the Nurses Home. Once we were back in her room she showed me what she was clutching under her cloak. It was a rather soggy parcel which she unwrapped to display 3 very dead goldfish!

The ward Sister she was working was inordinately fond of the small aquarium which had been presented to her by a group of grateful patients. She had asked Kate to clean it for her and Kate had carefully filled a bowl with water and emptied the aquarium, put the fish into their temporary home, cleaned the aquarium, refilled  it and turned to the bowl for the fish to find them floating on the surface. She had inadvertantly filled it with hot water!

We spent our afternoon off touring the pet shops, where she regaled the owners with her sad story and holding up the dead fish while they tried to match them! We managed to get pretty near matches so on our return she was able to put in the replacements before Sister returned from her afternoon split shift (they had 1/2 hour longer than us.)  I don’t know whether Sister noticed but she never said anything, so once again Catastrophe Kate had got away with it!

PS. Kate finished her training, married an American and went on to have a distingished career as a Director of Nursing in New York!