A Letter from Chimamanda Ngozi Adibe to Me

My daughter Louise bought ‘Letter to Ijeawele. A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions’ for her 20-year old daughter and gave it to me to read before taking it back to the Basque Country where she lives. I read it twice and immediately ordered a copy of that book and Chimamanda’s  ‘We should all be feminists.’

Chimamanda might well have entitled her book ‘Letter to Dr Abby J Waterman.’ I felt that she spoke to me directly and made me aware of something I had done without thinking. In my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ I wrote ‘I am an 85-year old retired pathologist …’ and went on to list my various achievements. I ended my bio with ‘as well as a wife and mother of four children,’ because I felt I had to establish that I was a ‘normal’ woman, to validate me.

But can you imagine my husband, Joshua (Bless him) ending his bio with ‘as well as a husband and father of four’? Unthinkable – but why? I’ll know better when I publish my sequel – its working title is ‘25 Houses’.

‘We should all be feminists’ refers more to things as they are/ were in Nigeria but it’s still an excellent read.

I wish I’d read and taken to heart some of the advice Chimamanda gives years ago. It would have saved me a lot of heartache,

My mother certainly instilled in me the need to be ‘likeable’ and yielding!! certainly, if I wanted to get a husband.

And Now the Delightful Belgravia Bookshop, London

So pleased the Belgravia Bookshop 59 Ebury Street, London SW1W 0NZ is going to stock my memoir Woman in a White Coat.

A great place to browse

The bookshop is in the heart of Belgravia behind and to the north-east of Victoria Coach Station towards Eaton Square.

The problem for someone like me with a sore hip is that is is a tidy walk from the nearest bus stops and parking during the week is very difficult.

However I was delighted to find lots of parking spaces when we went there on a Saturday and parking is free after 1.30pm

You might even be able to park right outside!!

it’s a must  for book-lovers – 020-7259 9336 @belgraviab and also the home of the Ardvark Bureau and Gallic Books

Hurrah for Independent Bookshops

Two more independent bookshops are stocking my memoir Woman in a White Coat.

Brick Lane Bookshop
Lots to chose from

Brick Lane Bookshop   is an island of calm in the midst of the Bagels, Curry houses, Vintage clothes and Street food.
Tweet them on @bricklanebooks


An Aladdin’s Cave

Newham Bookshop is an Aladdin’s  cave of books and craft materials. And a super friendly and helpful assistant.

Tweet @NewhamBookshop

Woman in a White Coat

Mary Berry’s Orange Polenta Cake


I can never resist Mary Berry’s new Cookbooks. There are always some new dishes I must try.

There are several recipes in her new Classic book  and it’s great to have a cake for our gluten-sensitive grandson.

This Orange Polenta Cake is delicious though i’d have been pushed to fit it into a 20cm cake tin. My 23cm springform tin was just right.

Cookery was amongst the several  Further Education classes I took after i retired as a consultant pathologist. Joyce was the best tutor by far. Not only were all her recipes tried and tested – foolproof – but I learnt how to follow and adapt recipes from all different sources.

Recipe Continue reading Mary Berry’s Orange Polenta Cake

My Maternal Grandmother, Rachel


My grandmother

I adored my grandmother, Rachel, and was broken-hearted when she died. Whenever I read this excerpt from my memoir Woman in a White Coat my throat thickens and tears come to my eyes.

Memoir Extract

In 1937, when I was six, my grandmother had a stroke while she was scrubbing the stairs. She was dead on arrival at The London Hospital. Continue reading My Maternal Grandmother, Rachel

Rhythm and Reaction. The Age of Jazz in Britain at 2 Temple Place London, WC2R 3BD

At 2 Temple Place

I’m not really into jazz, Classical music is more my style, but I love going to 2 Temple Place, a fine house in a crescent off the Victoria Embankment. And the café is good too!!

The exhibition has been curated by Catherine Tackley, Professor and Head of Music at the University of Liverpool. It sets out to tell the story of the jazz age in new ways, focussing on British depictions of jazz. It helps us to understand what the music meant to artists, to assess the image of jazz in the public sphere and to see how jazz was encountered in everyday, domestic environments.

Rather to our surprise, we both loved the exhibition which was more about the bands and soloists and about the 1920s. And there wasn’t excessively loud jazz playing in the several exhibition rooms. There were displays and information about the 1920s ubiquitous banjos and a display of drums with contemporary film clips running behind them. Amazing to see musicians playing jazz while performing aerial stunts

What about Health and Safety??
Several different combos were on show






As it’s half-term week this week, there was an event for children event upstairs. A  large throw spread on the floor and delightful toddlers dancing on it to jazz music. Made me feel quite broody!!

Thank you all for coming to my talk at Victoria library on my memoir Woman in a White Coat.


1918 – Votes for Women and All That

Hurrah for Women!!

On February 6th 1918 – one hundred years ago tomorrow – women in the UK were given the vote if they were over 30 and moderately wealthy. They had to be householders, or the wives of householders, or occupiers of property with an annual rent of at least £5 (just under £200 in today’s money but at a time when rents were much, much lower) or graduates of British universities. It wasn’t for another 10 years that the franchise was extended in 1928 to women over 21 – giving them the same rights as men.

My parents’ wedding October 6th 1918

More important for my own future was the fact that my parents got married in 1918 on October 6th  just over a month before the Great War of 1914-18 ended.

As you can see from this sepia photograph, like me, my mother was five foot nothing next to my father’s six foot. If you look carefully, you can see the bump in the carpet where the photographer placed a small stool to make the disparity in their height a little less obvious.

Extract from my memoir Woman in a White Coat

My father  was the sixth, and last but one, son of a wealthy Hebrew book printer. Samuel Waterman, my paternal grandfather, was a Freemason and an important member of his synagogue. He frequently travelled abroad, ostensibly on business, though in fact, it was said it was to visit his mistress in Paris.

Continue reading 1918 – Votes for Women and All That

Dan Colen’s ‘Sweet Liberty’ at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery, London

Dan Colen at the Newport Street Gallery

Another fun exhibition – Dan Colen’s ‘Sweet Liberty’ –  at Damien Hirst’s spacious Newport Street Gallery has now  been extended until January 28th.

Note: There seem to be road works everywhere in Westminster so if you’re driving be persistent – there is a way through!!

Colen examines notions of identity and individuality, set against a portrait of contemporary America.

Haiku (2015-17)

His works are said to be read as self-portraits. Colen (born 1979 in New Jersey) must have been feeling quite down when he made this big sad Scooby Doo (Haiku 2015-17).

There are a variety of fascinating shapes punched through the walls (Livin and Dyin) of Wile E. Coyote, Kool-Aid Man, Roger Rabbit and of Colen naked. The walls are around 1 foot thick. I wonder how they were originally knocked through and whether they will be made good completely or become a permanent display.

Untitled (Me and You) 2006-7

This mysterious painting Untitled (Me and You 2006-7)  is one of my favourite works from this exhibition. It is one of a series of Colen’s paintings based stills from Disney’s Pinocchio showing a candle on the workbench of Pinocchio’s creator – Geppetto.


Charles II: Art and Power, Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Charles II with his symbols of power

Charles II: Art and Power – another fascinating exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, more interesting for it’s historical significance than the paintings. After his execution in 1649 most of Charles I’s art collection and other valuables were given away or sold by Oliver Cromwell and his party and few of value were returned.

The Collar Charles II (1630-1685) wears in this painting by John Michael Wright (1617-1694) shows that he is a member of the order of the garter; the Orb represents Christ’s Authority over the world and symbolises that he has been chosen by God to rule; the Parliamentary Robes which are made of crimson velvet with an ermine fur cape and gold lace decorations, represent Charles II’s role as head of state.

Charles II was determined to make his reign as different from that of the Puritans as possible commissioning a variety of valuable artefacts and numerous prints and paintings of himself.

Ornate gold Plate

This rather vulgar set of gold plate is typical of his commissions.

He also commissioned paintings and prints of his numerous mistresses including this delightful print of Nell Gwynn as Venus.

A print of Nell Gwyn as Venus

The print was adapted from a painting by Correggio which had been in the collection of Charles I. There are numerous paintings of his many other mistresses – I lost count of how many illegitimate children he fathered – as well as of his wife, the unpopular catholic Catherine of Braganza

In spite of his decree that all off Charles I’s paintings be returned, in fact very few were given back to the throne, mainly from the English.

Starting January 27th 2018 a blockbuster exhibition of Charles I’s paintings collected from the other beneficiaries of Cromwell’s distribution opens at the Royal Academy, London – ‘Charles I: King and Collector.

Read about my attempt at becoming a fine artist in my memoir Woman in a White Coat

Blog by Dr Abby J Waterman and her new book, Woman in a White Coat

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