Category Archives: London

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

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

V&A London ‘Fashioned from Nature’. Vanities, Vanities, all is Vanities.

 

fascinating and worrying exhibition

‘Fashioned from Nature’ is another large and fascinating exhibition at the V&A Museum in the Fashion Section.

On the ground floor there are numerous examples of the many creatures that we have made almost, if not entirely, extinct in order to obtain their skin, feathers, skeletons or whalebones for hats, dresses, muffs, shoes and cloaks.

On the upper floor examples of clothes made from man-made materials often using toxic materials resulting in the loss of human life.

My favorite poster

Thank you for all those who have been coming to my talks about my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ at libraries in and around Westminster and those who have written such kind reviews on Amazon.

My unique memoir is the story of a woman pathologist brought up in a cold-water tenement in London’s East End and who has also been a Harley Street dentist, an entrepreneur (co-owner of Conran-group designed educational toyshops), the director of a Cancer Research laboratory at a major London teaching hospital, as well as a wife and mother of four children. 

‘Woman in a White Coat’ by Dr Abby J Waterman (2017) and ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins (1859)

I read ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins as a teenager 70+ years ago, so when I came to think of a title for my memoir that would suggest that among my several professions were some in which I would wear a doctor’s white coat, his title never crossed my mind.
Now retired, I have been in turn a Harley Street dentist, an entrepreneur (co-owner of Conran-group designed educational toyshops), the director of a Cancer Research laboratory at a major London teaching hospital, as well as a wife and mother of four children.

About ‘Woman in a White Coat’

I was first reminded of Wilkie Collins’ book when I saw my memoir for sale on Amazon and now I see that BBC 1 is about to air a serialized version starting tonight – the last was in 1997. Be interesting to see what the BBC makes of it.

Tonight on BBC 1 at 9pm

Although I have started writing a  medical whodunit, ‘Woman in a White Coat’ is not a thriller like ‘The Woman in White’ though my memoir does have some cliff-hangers!!

Askew Road Library , Shepherd’s Bush, London W12 9AS – What a delightful library

The library entrance now with the almost ubiquitous Amazon pickup locker

It was lovely to be invited by the librarian of Askew Road library to give a talk and reading from my memoir Woman in a White Coat. The occasion was one of the Wednesday coffee mornings that have been running in the library for many years.

Friendly open space

The library is on one floor and in a light friendly open space. To one side, towards the back, is a gaily coloured children’s area with carpeting so the children can read and play on the floor.

Intimidating when empty

The chairs for the participants were arranged in a large semicircle. Louise was in the UK with her family for Easter and she came with Josh so I had an audience of at least two plus the librarians. But when I sat at the table at the front,  the expanse of empty chairs looked enormous. Louise and Josh were lost at one end.

However, to my surprise and delight, by the time we started at 11am, not only were all the chairs filled  but some latecomers had to fetch extra seating.

Most of the audience – mainly women with one man – were seniors who remembered life pre-WW2 and my story of life in a cold water tenement  resonated with them, as did the medical episodes. They laughed and caught their breath in all the right places.

What a lovely responsive audience and welcoming library staff. I felt very lucky to have been given this invitation and have promised to return – perhaps with my sequel ’25 houses’

The EY Exhibition Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy; Tate Modern London

An incredible exhibition of works carried out by Picasso in only one year – 1932.  Great to exhibit so many paintings I’ve never seen before and, for once, with labels large enough to read with ease.

Hard to believe one man could produce this much work in one year though much of the colour is in flat sheets. A  film of Picasso painting on glass showed just how quickly he could draw. However, I would defy him to produce this number of paintings in the styled of Las Meninas by Velasquez that he admired and of which he painted simplified derivative images.

A few sculptures and examples of his ceramics as well as images of his ‘castle’ in France.

Tate Modern has done it again!!

Woman in a White Coat still doing well. many thanks to my readers.

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.