Scrumptious Rock Cakes – ‘Woman in a White Coat’ Memoir for Christmas

Delicious rock cakes

These Rock cakes are so easy and low sugar – none in the dough mixture and just a sprinkle of demerara sugar on the top to make them crunchy. And they freeze well – if you have any left once the family has seen them.

You can read about the cookery classes I went to at Morley College with Joyce. Thanks to her teaching I’m happy to tackle most recipes. Such a shame she died so soon after retiring.

Read about cookery and further education in my memoir Woman in a White Coat. It makes an excellent Christmas present.

The  paperback is available from Amazon at £9.99 or on Kindle at £2.99

Recipe for Rock Cakes
Continue reading Scrumptious Rock Cakes – ‘Woman in a White Coat’ Memoir for Christmas

Learning Classical Greek aged 87. Excerpt from Chapter 28 of ‘Woman in a White Coat’

Our grammar textbook

I had wanted to learn Classical Greek and read the Greek masters in the original for some time and finally enrolled for a beginners’ class at CityLit starting in September 2016.

But it was not to be. On August 9th 2016 Death Came Knocking at My Door and i had  a major heart attack.

When i recovered after having had two coronary stents and an intra-aortic balloon pump inserted and been on a ventilator, there was no way i could attend classes that semester and had to cancel.

I started a week’s intensive course in Classical Greek in the summer of 2017 but the beginners’ class the following September was in the evening – and i hate evening classes.

Finally I started the daytime Classical Greek Level 1 at CityLit this September. Unfortunately I’ve catching up to do – one session missed while we were visiting our daughter Louise in the Basque Country and another with a heavy cold caught out there, but I’ve bought some extra textbooks and hope to make up the missed classes.

Read here about what it’s like to have a life-threatening heart attack from my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’.

Buy Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

Extract from Chapter 28 ‘Death Knocks at My Door’

Death came knocking at my door in August, came right in, cold bony fingers at my throat and foul charnel-breath in my face. I had a major heart attack – blocked my coronary arteries and killed off areas of the left ventricle of my heart, the part that pumps freshly oxygenated blood around the body. Continue reading Learning Classical Greek aged 87. Excerpt from Chapter 28 of ‘Woman in a White Coat’

New Season of Thursday Lunchtime Concerts at St John’s Smith Square. The Fidelio Trio and Learning to Play the Cello

Fidelio Trio poster for September 6th 2018 1.05pm

Delighted that the Thursday lunchtime concerts at St John’s Smith Square London SW1P 3HA have started again after the August break.

And what a fabulous concert to open with: the Fidelio Trio playing Fauré‘s (1845-1924) Piano Trio in D Minor op 120 – which I feel rather lukewarm about – and Schoenberg’s (1874-1951) Verklärte Nachte Op 4 which was fantastic.

Something so exciting about the stage set for the trio and an expectant audience

Composed in 1899, the Schoenberg was written as a sextet and arranged beautifully as a trio by Eduard Steuermann in 1932.

This was the first time I’d heard Verklärte Nachte in full. I’d previously only heard excerpts in lectures on Schoenberg and the 2nd Viennese School. I hadn’t realised how many lyrical passages he had written as well as his signature discords.

All three musicians – Darragh Morgan (violin), Adi Tal (cello) and Mary Dulles (piano) were great but i especially liked the cello. Adi Tal’s playing made me almost wish i hadn’t given up playing the cello when i left school.

Listen to my account of learning to play the cello from my memoir Woman in a White Coat Chapter 7 Music Studies Pages 96-98

 

You can buy a copy of my memoir Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99 or as a Paperback on Amazon at £9.99

Memoir Extract – Learning to play the Cello

An ex-student, who’d gone on to play second violin in the London Symphony Orchestra, gave our school a cello. I put my name down to have free lessons, but I wasn’t very hopeful because I was already having piano lessons. I wasn’t altogether pleased when my form mistress stopped me at the end of the week and told me I had been chosen to learn the cello. We always had loads of homework and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to fit in practising the cello as well as the piano. Continue reading New Season of Thursday Lunchtime Concerts at St John’s Smith Square. The Fidelio Trio and Learning to Play the Cello

Plum and Almond Cake (Waitrose) and Where I learned to Cook

Lovely mixture of sweet and sour

There are so many reasons – other than that I love them very much – why it’s so great when Louise and her family come and stay with us.

I’m always on and off slimming – all too soon I put back most of the weight I lost whilst on a ventilator two years ago after a major heart attack, so I don’t make desserts for just Joshua and me. Having visitors is a good excuse. The latest Waitrose Magazine came out with this recipe for Plum and Almond Cake just in time. Josh doesn’t like almond essence so I use vanilla essence instead.

When Josh and I got married in 1956 I could just about cook omelettes and minestrone. Over the next few years, whilst I was a Medical Student and then a House Officer, I gradually increased my repertoire but really learned to cook a wide variety of dishes at the excellent Good Housekeeping six-week full time course in 1960.

Listen to my account of that experience from my memoir Woman in a White Coat Chapter 14 Starting a Family Pages 247-249 and try the recipe given at the end of this post

You can purchase Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99 or search on ISBN 9781979834391 for the paperback version on Amazon at £9.99

Woman in a White Coat Chapter 14 Starting a Family Pages 247-249

By the time I finished my second house job, I was five months pregnant. I was unlikely to find a part-time temporary job in medicine and I couldn’t face the thought of standing all day in a dental practice.

I decided to take a cookery course instead. Only the girls in the lower streams at school did cookery and my mother had always shooed me away, especially during wartime. When we got married I could cook omelettes and minestrone and not much else, though I’d extended my range a bit since then.

‘Food is rationed,’ she’d say. ‘Don’t want you wasting good food. Time enough to learn to cook when you get married.’

My mother was a very plain cook. Her repertoire was limited to chicken soup, boiled chicken, braised beef, fried fish and sardines on toast. On Saturdays, we’d have cholent, potatoes and meat or chicken that had been cooking all night on a gas ring turned on very low before the Sabbath came in.

I saw an advertisement for a six-week full-time course at the Good Housekeeping Cookery School. The courses were originally designed for debutantes who needed to learn how to run a kitchen, though they might only set a foot inside one to give orders to the cook.

Most of the other students were upper crust young women who had hardly ever gone into a kitchen. One 17-year-old had never even peeled a potato. Some of the others had moved to London and got a flat of their own so they had done a bit of cooking but we were all pretty inexperienced. One student was a woman in her early thirties who had been in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) – someone more my age. We paired up and shared chores.

Before the war, the students would have cooked in the morning and learned about housework in the afternoon, though they might never have to do any housework once they were married. They were taught to use the starch-enriched water from soaking the potatoes they cooked in the morning to starch a frilly cap or a shirt; how to use gophering tongs – the tubular bladed instruments that made little tunnels in starched caps – and how to iron men’s shirts. By the time I took the course, it only covered cookery.

The kitchens were in a large basement in Mayfair. There were eight Formica-topped tables for the sixteen of us. The shelves around the walls were stacked with bowls and saucepans of every shape and size and there were drawers and drawers of cooking implements. as well as several gas cookers and hobs. On Mondays, the room smelled of cleaning fluid but the rest of the week we were greeted by the gorgeous smell of the cakes we’d cooked for our tea the day before.

We were taught from scratch – how to boil an egg, how to boil potatoes, how to skin and bone a fish. It was a mixture of traditional English cookery – roast beef, roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding – and some more exotic dishes like dolmas (stuffed vine leaves), curries and the classic sole dishes Sole Veronique, sole with green grapes and Sole Meniere, sole panfried in butter.

In the mornings, we cooked a main meal for lunch and ate it – meat, fish or a vegetarian dish and two vegetables. In the afternoons we baked cakes, bread, brioches, and pastries. I adored it all, especially the chocolate éclairs. In 1960, no-one seemed to bother about pregnant women putting on too much weight and I ate for two with gusto.

I couldn’t find a suitable sized alphabetised book so I bought a linen covered book and made my own index. I still have it, a few food stains on the cover and the leaves a bit faded, but the recipes as good as ever.

The teachers were all highly experienced cooks and managed their often unruly pupils with ease. At dental and medical school, there had been few women – there was still a 10% quota for us. I thoroughly enjoyed the fun of bonding and giggling and having a great time in an all-female group.

I thrived on being pregnant, though I got a bit more tired than the others. It was a lovely six weeks. I cried when they gave me an embroidered layette at the end of the course.

Here is my slightly modified recipe: Continue reading Plum and Almond Cake (Waitrose) and Where I learned to Cook

On being a First Year Clinical Medical Student on the Wards

Willis’s Principles of Pathology, in the centre, inspired me to become a pathologist; on the right an updated Grays Anatomy (Students), a textbook of medicine  and my stethoscope

I was already a qualified Dental Surgeon when i started on the wards as a first year clinical medical student.

My medical school fees were paid by a generous award from the Hilda Martindale Trust (an award given to women who are training or studying for a career in a profession where women are under-represented). I was still living at home and made up my income for books, travel and clothes by working two evenings a week in a school dental clinic.

My first patient was a woman in heart failure called Mrs Roberts.

Listen to my account of that experience from my memoir Woman in a White Coat Chapter 14  At Medical School Pages 191-195

You can buy my book on Kindle at £2.99 or search on ISBN 9781979834391 for the paperback version on Amazon at £9.99

Memoir extract from Woman in a White Coat Ch 14 pp 191-195

We stood outside the Bristow female medical ward, stethoscopes hanging nonchalantly out of our pockets, about to start our clinical attachments to the medical, surgical and obstetric firms. Continue reading On being a First Year Clinical Medical Student on the Wards

Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos 1, 3 & 5 at the BBC Proms at the Albert Hall

Swedish Chamber Orchestra. Conductor Thomas Dausgaard
Another visit to the BBC Proms 2018. A wonderful concert in a pleasantly cool Albert Hall. The three fabulous Bach Brandenburg Concertos were interspersed with three modern pieces.
Cellist Maya Beiser taking a bow after the piece ‘Maya’ written for her
The first modern piece was Maya by the British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage with the brilliant American cellist Maya Beiser – an interesting virtuoso piece, moving and exciting. After the Brandenburg Concerto No 3  the orchestra played Bach Materia by Swedish Anders Hillborg with the Finnish violinist Pekka Kuussisto . A fantastic piece – especially the duet between the violin and double bass. Last modern piece was Hamsa by the American composer Uri Caine playing the piano part himself – for me a sorry parody of the great 5th Brandenburg Concerto which preceded it. Much of the piano part was a cacophony sounding like a cat walking over the keys – banging out tight discords. I was nine years old when I started to learn to play the piano with the organist of the local church. At the time, 1940-1942,  I was evacuated to a hostel for Jewish Children in Dawlish, South Devon. Listen to my account of that experience from my memoir Woman in a White Coat. You can buy my book on Kindle at £2.99 or search on ISBN 9781979834391 for the paperback version on Amazon at £9.99 Memoir extract from Chapter 5 Pages 68-71 To Dawlish Matron put up a notice saying she had written to our parents asking if they wanted us to learn to play the piano. I didn’t think my parents would agree to pay for lessons though they were quite cheap, especially as I had just been in trouble for refusing to wash on the Sabbath. Continue reading Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos 1, 3 & 5 at the BBC Proms at the Albert Hall

Polio Epidemics pre-WW2

Woman in White Coat paperback, some reference books, my stethoscope, a couple of teeth and a doll box – souvenirs of my various careers

Before the advent of the anti-polio vaccine, in 1955, here in the UK there was an epidemic of poliomyelitis (Infantile Paralysis) every summer.

In 1938, the dreaded disease came to our tenements.

Memoir Extract from Woman in a White Coat Chapter 2 pp 29-30

Buy ‘Woman in a White Coat’  as an eBook from Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback from Amazon at £9.99

We all caught measles, chicken pox and whooping cough. The only immunization we had was against smallpox – it left an ugly scar on your upper arm. Continue reading Polio Epidemics pre-WW2

250th Summer Exhibition Royal Academy, London. Reading #3 My Art Class from ‘Woman in a White Coat’

What a brilliant idea!!

What a brilliant idea – having Grayson Perry curate this important 250th Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.

 

Royal Valkyrie by Joana Vasconcelos

 

 

The brilliant mixed media sculpture by Joana Vasconcelos greets you as you enter. And I loved the Architecture Room.

 

The Architecture Room

 

Often I’ve felt overwhelmed at the Summer Exhibitions by the crowds and the works massed together higgledy-piggledy, but this year the exhibition is themed and great. It’s absolutely a ‘MUST GO’.

This fabulous exhibition  made me feel I ought to get out my paints and pastels and start painting and drawing again. After I retired in 1991 I went to a wide variety of classes including drawing and painting.

Hear about the Art Class at the Mary Ward Centre in Queen Square I attended after I retired in 1991 in this excerpt from my memoir Woman in a White Coat’  – Chapter 26 pp 355-356 and pp 361-363

Woman in a White Coat’  is available on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

Chapter 26 Woman in a White Coat

I enrolled for lots of classes, some at one Further Education college and some at another – painting, drawing, cooking, history of art, Spanish, creative writing, pottery, dressmaking, machine knitting, felt making – everything I hadn’t had time for when I was working. It wasn’t just that I hadn’t had the time, I hadn’t had the inclination. My mind was always so full of work. Even when I was at the theatre, I would find myself thinking about a difficult diagnosis or a hiccup in our research.

Continue reading 250th Summer Exhibition Royal Academy, London. Reading #3 My Art Class from ‘Woman in a White Coat’

Do cats really have nine lives? ‘Woman in a White Coat’ Book Reading #2.

The paperback version

Thank you for your comments on the first reading from my memoir Woman in a White Coat.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter #2 about a little black kitten called Rupert

 

Woman in a White Coat’  is available on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

Reading from Chapter 2 Pages 18-22

(Scroll down to read text)

A kitten for me

Book Excerpt

Chapter 2 pp 18-22

We always had a cat. Most people in The Buildings kept a cat, because we all had mice, even on the third floor. I never caught sight of a mouse in our flat, but often there would be a few mouse droppings. Now and again my father baited two or three mouse traps with cheese, but he rarely caught a mouse. They were too wary. They had learned how to steal the cheese without getting trapped.

Continue reading Do cats really have nine lives? ‘Woman in a White Coat’ Book Reading #2.

Westminster Libraries – Book Readings from ‘Woman in a White Coat – 1. Petticoat Lane

The paperback version

Several people at the readings I have given from my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ in Westminster Libraries have suggested that I record excerpts. I am therefore appending  a reading from Chapter 1 and the corresponding text.

Please  contact me at abbyjw@outlook.com with any comments.

‘Woman in a White Coat’ is the story of a young Jewish girl brought up in a cold-water tenement in London’s East End. In spite of her disadvantages, she becomes in turn a Harley Street dentist, an entrepreneur, a Consultant Pathologist and Director of a Cancer Research laboratory, as well as a wife and mother of four children.

Woman in a White Coat’  is available on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

This excerpt starts in 1931 when Dr Abby J Waterman was born.

Excerpts from ‘Woman in a White Coat

116 Wentworth Dwellings  where I lived  on the 3rd floor 1931-1943 -. the entrance has been shuttered since gentrification

Chapter 1

My mother said she cried for days when I was born. I wasn’t the son she wanted, the son who would carry on the family name and say the prayer for the dead (the Kadesh) at her funeral. She didn’t need a third daughter.

Continue reading Westminster Libraries – Book Readings from ‘Woman in a White Coat – 1. Petticoat Lane

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

%d bloggers like this: