Category Archives: School


My local hairdresser
My local hairdresser

Why is it that your hair is fine for weeks then suddenly one day it’s a real bad hair day and you have to rush to make an appointment with your stylist?

At school my straight black hair hung half-way down my back, to be replaced by a neat French pleat when I qualified as a doctor. Now, practically all grey, it’s really short.

No chance of my getting lice now but when I was 13 the health visitor found I had lice.  At that time it was a real disgrace.  My mother was furious.  It would be years before it was widely known that any child could catch lice – whether coming from a clean or dirty home. Continue reading BAD HAIR DAY – THANK HEAVEN FOR TONY AND GUY

Artist and Empire at Tate Britain, London

Ruxshir, Potter of Agra 100 years old
Ruxshir, Potter of Agra 100 years old

What a fantastic, shaming, inspiring, huge exhibition.  So much to read; so much to think about.

At school in the 1940s and 50s, we had a pageant every Empire Day, May 24th – Queen Victoria’s Birthday. We celebrated the amount of pink colouring on our map of the world showing which countries or states were under British Rule, and we repeated that The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire. The prettiest girl would be Britannia, symbol of British values, complete with Neptune’s trident, lion and British Union Jack flag, while the rest of us would be dressed in various ‘native’ costumes and sing Rule Britannia  confirming that Britain rules the waves (hence the trident) and that we never never shall be slaves – though we did jolly well out of the slave trade in its heyday. Rebadged in1958 as Commonwealth DayEmpire Day was changed in 1977 to the second Monday in March.

The iconic portrait by the Austin artist Rodolf Swoboda shown in the Tate Britain poster was one of three portraits commissioned by Queen Victoria.  Though exhibited at the Indian and Colonial Exhibition in London in 1886 as ‘Genuine Artists’,  they are of prisoners in Agra gaol who were being rehabilitated by training in a variety of handicrafts. Ramlal, a 9-year old boy, (and what crime could a 9-year old have committed?) was a carpet weaver while Mohammed Hosein was a 26-year old coppersmith.

Paintings, photographs, cartoons, banners, sculptures, Benin bronzes and wood carvings – a lot to take in during one visit.

Summer resolution

My first school photo aged 5
My first school photo aged 5

My latest resolution – after a bit of a struggle migrating from to and a lot of help from TSOHOST – is to write posts more regularly and to include more excerpts from my memoir Woman in a White Coat

Extract from my memoir Woman in  a White Coat

Thursday October 8th 1931 was not an auspicious day to be born. The mild sunny weather of September and early October had turned cold and wet. The Great Depression was at its worst, and my father had been laid off from his work as a journeyman printer. He tried to get temporary work in the docks, but he was turned away. He had to take work where he could, some of the time as a road sweeper.

My mother told me she wept for days after I was born. I wasn’t a boy who would carry on the family name and say Kadesh, the prayer for the dead, over their coffins. Who needed a third daughter?

My sisters, Hannah and Rebecca, cried when my mother brought me home from the Jewish Maternity Hospital in Whitechapel. I wasn’t the brother they had been looking forward to and I had a nasty rash on my face.

‘She’s ugly,’ Hannah said. ‘Take her back.’

From Chapter 4 of my memoir Woman in a White Coat