Thursday, 22 July 2010

Thursday 22nd July 2010

Something has been preying on my mind lately and now I just have to say it, even at the risk of upsetting my American friends:  hands up who thinks Hillary Clinton's hair looks a mess these days?  Well, not just these days, ever since she started being Secretary of State she looks like she's been dragged through a hedge backwards!  She always used to look so smart. Somebody buy the lady a comb.

Well, that's the bitching out of the way!

I was just reading Ann in the UP's latest entry 'Are we in Kansas' - a reminiscence of her time in nurse training.  I think she must have been training about the same time as I started because so much sounds the same.

There were strict rules about uniform for a start.  If you left the hospital with your uniform on you had to wear what was instantly recognisable as a nurse's coat and hat.  This outfit was navy (dark) blue and the hat was a little pillbox affair.   It flattered no-one but that was the rule and had to be obeyed.  What you did not do was go floating round the supermarket with your sticky fingered brood getting your uniform contaminated with all sorts.  

Nor did you wash your uniform yourself.  You were given enough dresses, aprons and caps to last a week with a couple of spares in case of necessity and each Friday, whether you 'lived in' or not, your used uniforms had to be put in your own personal box and left for collection by the hospital laundry.  As students our caps were made of white card, which was precut for us to fold - tee hee flat-pack nurses' hats!  The IKEA of the NHS!

Our uniform dresses, as students, were green with a zipper from collar to waist at the front and under no circumstances was that zipper anything other than zipped right up, even on a hot day.  You wore flat, black, lace-up shoes AND tights and if you needed to go outside on the hospital premises you had to put on your cloak - again, as much meant to keep your uniform contamination-free as to keep you warm.  Your dress had to be long enough to just touch the floor when you knelt down - which made it pretty darn long when you stood (try it).  We had a horrid Assistant Matron (the Matron was the boss of the hospital) who had no qualms whatever about making suspected transgressors of this rule kneel wherever they were - even in the hospital corridor - so she could check.  She certainly wouldn't get away with that these days!

All first year students had to 'live in' at the Nurses' Home in the hospital grounds.   The only exception to this was if there happened to be a male student nurse; very unusual then because nursing wasn't considered a men's job.  We had 2 of them:  Ralph and David!  Couldn't have them in a house full of females, though I'm sure they wouldn't have minded.  You got quite a nice single bedded room with a dressing table, wardrobe and a small desk and chair and wash-basin.  The bathrooms were shared with everyone else but I was lucky to be right next door to one.  There were two common rooms (lounges) and one of them had a black and white TV.  We had a small kitchen with a stove, fridge and kettle but for a while they closed this because two of the girls kept stinking the place out cooking pilchards.  OK?  Rather than tell them not to cook pilchards they stopped the rest of us making tea!  Typical!

But it wasn't all doom and gloom because if you didn't go home for your days off you could have your bacon and eggs breakfast right there in the nurses' home.  You put your name in the breakfast book the day before and a kitchen assistant came over to cook and clear away.  We thought that was real luxury.

The watchword though was always obedience.  We were there to learn from women who knew more than we did in the hope that one day we would know as much as they did.  It didn't occur to us to contradict or argue and, know what, that worked - Yes Sister, no Sister, three-bags-full Sister..  We never used each others' Christian names, only surnames, and patients were always Mr or Mrs or Miss.

Them was the days - or were they?  What do you think?


Ann in the UP said...

1. I'm with you on the state of Hillary's hairdo. It could do with a little lift or something. It's droopy looking.

2. I don't know how prepared today's nursing students are when they start in actual jobs. We knew what was expected of us and we didn't have any trouble getting hired once we passed our boards.

I don't think any modern girls would hold still for all the restrictions and rules we had. But my training was pre-women's lib so we were more obedient. Even two years later, we thought the new students were sassy and uppity.

It's fun to compare notes! Thanks!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

When I was younger our Hospital had a nursing school on the grounds and I remember seeing those neatly dressed nursing uniforms. So much has changed now. I too have wondered about Hilary's hair. She must have changed hair dressers as it used to be so good. Strange that we women all think the same. I do so admire her and voted for her to be our first woman President. I think she'd have done a grand job of it.

Ally Lifewithally said...

Angie sounds like we had the same rules and regulations you had ~ but they were happy halcyon days ~ Ally x

Sage said...

Poor Hilary!
Hopefully she will get hairdresser for her daughter's wedding next week.

Joan said...

Hi Angie, I have noticed Hillary's hair don't know what is wrong there it used to be so nice. Nursed cloaks i think they look so good or cool as they say nowadays. When we were little we always got a cloak with our nurses uniforms in playsets. Really enjoyed your very interesting entry today took me back to a long stay I had in hospital a long time ago. Take care Love Joan

Jasper said...

Hiya Angie,

Great post! I know what you mean about Mrs. Clinton. She's looking very tired as well. Personally, the words "troublesome menopause" spring to mind...

Your piece about nursing was fascinating. Seems like another world... but I am ALL FOR that way of thining/working. If only things were like that in our schools today; I'm sure there wouldn't be half the problems with younger people and crime.

I bet you looked GORGEOUS in your uniform as well, expecially the little hat... hubba hubba!!

love, Jasper xxx

Sybil said...

Sorry Angie, with all that has been going on here I missed Thurs. edition !! Having spebt most of my childhood in and aroudn hospital I can well remember all the various nurses uniforms and the matrons ward rounds, the beds having to be just right, pillows facing the right direction corners properly done !! What a change now as you know I have been busy visiting hospital to see my BIL these last few weeks and the changes are mind blowing.. I can never tell which is a nures, a cleaner, or even a Dr, all look more or less the white Drs coats in sight...they all wear little badges with their names on that unless you can peer into their chests you can't even guess who they are and as for introducing themselves...well..However I have to say the kindness and caring is still just as good even if the bed making leave somthing to be desired
Love Sybil x

Jan said...

How did I miss this entry ? hee hee ,yes poor Hilary is looking abit frayed round the edges these days ,Oh how nice to have a look back at how things were ,and I wonder how much wearing uniforms outside the hospital contributes to cross contamination ,that sort of discipline is missing today ,and Im not sure if it's all to the good Jan xx

Marie said...

Them WERE the days for sure! I Love reading about your memories. THey are always so fascinating to me! I think perhaps HIlary has been pre-occupied with the £4million wedding! Can you imagine. I Know what a £2million one looks like from the inside out and all I can say is this must be going to be one heck of a do!! Let's hope that Hilary fixes her "do" before then!!! xxoo