Category Archives: Childbirth


From Oxford Circus
From Oxford Circus

My son Bernard suggested this fabulous App.

My problem is that I’d like to take more exercise but my bad hip starts to ache quite quickly and I avoid walking whenever I can.

The beauty of this Walkit App is that I can choose a starting pont – near home or near where the bus stops – and look up the slowest 15 minute walk. I can only actually manage half of that before the pain is too bad, so I plan on walking only that much, but It does give me something to aim for.

Living as we do in Central London, walks per se can be fairly boring. This way, by having a goal I find interest in watching the steps pile up on my pedometer.

Of  course I shouldn’t have worn those thick-soled shoes in the first place.

Memoir extract
It was vanity, sheer vanity. I’d missed out on Doc Marten’s when they were all the rage and when I saw the thick-soled boots in the Ecco shop I couldn’t resist them. I should have given them to Oxfam after I tripped hurrying to get to the Post Office before it closed. That time I’d only skinned the palms of my hands and tore a hole in my jeans. When I tripped crossing the road in San Sebastian, I broke my hip. Continue reading WONDERFUL WALKIT APP

Thinking about all the things we have to time or wait for

Magnificent John Smith of Pittemweem clock
Magnificent John Smith of Pittemweem clock

One of the artefacts on display in the Queen’s Gallery Scottish Artist exhibition is this magnificent automaton and musical clock by John Smith of Pittenweem. it was exhibited in London in 1808 and put up for sale by lottery. The purchaser was not recorded but it was later acquired by William B Smith of Glasgow, exhibited in 1911 and purchased by the citizens of Glasgow in 1922. It was given to the then Duke of York (later King George VI) and Lady Elisabeth Bowes – Lyon (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother) on the occasion of their marriage.

Clock 2
Detail of one of the faces

When you think of all the the things we have to time from boiling an egg, to baking a cake, to taking a pulse and timing contractions, you have to be grateful for the invention of clocks.

Then you have to think about all the things we have to wait for – your birthday, the next post, the result of an exam, the birth of your baby and the reply from a literary agent who seems interested.

All’s well that ends well

An early interest in getting stuck in
An early interest in getting messy. Can’t believe she’s now 48.

Perhaps an early interest in strange materials persuaded Jane, our fourth child, to take up the sciences. Now 48, she is a Science Professor.

We very nearly lost her. She was six weeks premature and so she is only 17 months younger than Louise. Now good friends, they clashed as teenagers and we had to put up with all the teenage angst one after the other. As soon as Louise emerged loveable and sweet, Jane started being difficult and hard to deal with.

Excerpt from my memoir Woman in a White Coat
Simon, our elder son,  was in St Margaret’s having an internal ear repair. I was 32 weeks pregnant and feeling very wobbly as we kissed him goodbye and went towards the lift. A trickle of liquid ran down my leg.
‘Oh God,’ I said. ‘My waters have broken.’
We crossed over to the maternity wing.
‘Look, Abby, you’re not in labour,’ the obstetric registrar said. ‘It would be best if we didn’t admit you. With your membranes ruptured, you’re better resting at home. Much less risk of infection. Let’s see if we can’t get this baby of yours a bit more mature.’
When we got home I went to bed and stayed there, except to go to the loo. No way was I going to use a bedpan. Our au pair was wonderful. She treated me as if I were made of china and very delicate. I managed to get to 34 weeks before I went into labour. I phoned for an ambulance. Continue reading All’s well that ends well

Lovely having a little girl after two boys

And now she's 48!!
And now she’s 48!!

I’m so proud of all my children and grandchildren. Louise, our third child, is now 48 and a very successful director of a language college and an author.

Excerpt from Woman in a White Coat
After two boys I was hoping for a girl. The boys had slept in carry cots, but for my third baby I borrowed a friend’s wicker cradle and spent hours trimming it with lace and making matching pillowcases and coverlets.
I started having labour pains in the early hours of the first day of spring 1966. Joshua drove me and the boys to the private maternity clinic in Welbeck Street. The room was like a bedroom in a country cottage, with a blazing coal fire, deep carpets and a soft feather bed.
Josh took the boys off for breakfast to an all-night café in Covent Garden – then still a thriving fruit and vegetable market with cafes for the market porters. The woman at the counter carefully poured hot water over two teaspoons before putting them on the saucers.
‘Just to sterilise them, sir. Need to make sure the kids don’t catch anything,’ she said. Continue reading Lovely having a little girl after two boys