Category Archives: Memoir

AUTHOR – MY FIFTH (AND FINAL) CAREER

Woman in a White Coat

I first qualified as a dentist in 1953,and then as a doctor in 1959. In 1963, in between having 4 children, Josh and I opened an educational toyshop in Wimbledon but, having had enough of being an entrepreneur, when the children were all at full time school and aged 43, I returned to medicine. Five years later I was a consultant pathologist and director of a Cancer Research laboratory at a major London teaching hospital.

Now I suppose I can add ‘author’ as a fifth career. A near fatal heart attack in 2016 made me hurry up and complete my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’, self-published on Amazon in 2017.

Of course, I’d written papers about our work on the diagnosis of cancer and had needed to submit applications for funding. I hated the anxious times waiting for a response, especially once I had staff dependant on me for their salaries and futures.

Having long since retired and rather under protest, I finally joined Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. However, I felt that Social Media really wasn’t my thing and certainly not for someone in their eighties.

But then, the summer before last, I got the bug and started posting regularly on Facebook. I found great pleasure in the responses to my little stories. making ‘pen’ friends from the USA and Canada as well as from the UK. It’s lovely ‘talking’ on Messenger with someone in Montreal in the middle of the night, when I can’t sleep and it’s still daytime over there!!

Writing posts for Facebook is just right for me under lockdown, fitting in writing between doing other things. I am still trying to master Ancient Greek; I play the piano and attend virtual Art History classes at Further Education college. I bake all our own bread and cakes, and Josh and I cook dinner on alternate days. No takeaways, of course.

If I can bear to delay posting for a few days, I discuss my latest offerings with my Writing Circle on Zoom. We still meet every fortnight, but I miss seeing my friends in person. I expect they miss the homemade muffins and cafetiere coffee I always provided.

Last summer I published a collection of my Facebook posts ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ on Amazon. It was discovering that Kindle started to publish in colour that persuaded me. Now my children and friends can have another souvenir of me for ‘if and when’.

When you reach your 90th year, ‘if and when’ is never far from your thoughts!!

Luckily we went to the supermarket the day before it snowed in London

GREAT TO BE CHOOSING MY OWN BANANAS

 

Lovely to see full shelves

Now that we’ve been vaccinated against Covid and the rules for masking and social distancing are being more generally obeyed, we feel able to go shopping for ourselves, instead of having to have our groceries delivered. As a retired consultant pathologist, I have no problem with wearing a mask – it’s just like the old days!!

Last Friday, the Tesco store in Kensington was immaculate, the shelves stuffed full of goodies. It was lovely – going to the supermarket in person, being able to select bananas of just the right degree of ripeness and choose between Hovis’ own granary flour and Allison Country Grain flour, taking time to read the package details.

Yes of course I take a list, but at least I don’t have to keep checking that my shopping adds up to £40. Oftentimes, as an elderly couple with smaller appetites than in our youth, we’ve struggled to make our orders up to £40 and had to add things we don’t really need yet. Some supermarkets charge £4 –a whopping 10% – to orders under £40, while some, like Waitrose, won’t deliver orders under £40 at all.

I really missed being able to just wander around and get inspired by what is available and choose fruit and vegetables as they come into season.

But then I just love shopping. One of our regular weekend treats was wandering around shops, not necessarily buying anything – interspersed with visits to one of the great art galleries we have in London.

Zoom is super for browsing and online classes, but there’s nothing like seeing art in the flesh. Have to wait to redeem the tickets we’ve booked when finally, lockdown is relaxed.

Read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free.

Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £9.99 in paperback. ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour.

Woman in a White Coat

WOMAN IN A WHITE COAT – a memoir

‘Woman in a White Coat’ is the memoir of Dr Abby J Waterman, a poor Jewish girl who makes good. Born and brought up in London’s East End, she is now an 89-year old retired consultant pathologist who has been a Harley Street dentist, a doctor, an entrepreneur and finally director of a cancer research laboratory, as well as a wife and mother of four.

Can you imagine what it’s like to carry out an autopsy on a 4-year-old when you yourself have a young child at home? Or what it’s like to look into the eyes of a young mother nursing a babe in her arms, knowing she’ll be dead by the end of the year? Can you imagine what it’s like to be a pathologist who examines breast cancer cells under the microscope as her profession and then finds that she has breast cancer herself?

‘Woman in a White Coat’ is a poignant account of Abby’s journey from a cold-water tenement in Petticoat Lane, to being faced with life and death decisions in a London hospital. As a medical student, she brings babies into the world and helps to relieve the suffering of patients who are about to leave it.

Filled with insights and gentle humour, this book gives you a very real account of what it’s like to be a doctor at the sharp end. You’ll eavesdrop on the conversations from behind the scenes in hospitals, the stories of patients with strange “unexplained” injuries in embarrassing places, and the tears shed by the medical staff that patients never see. It will give you insights into what it is like, helping the sick to get better and the critically ill to die gracefully.

It also shows you that there can be a fulfilling life after retirement, even when it is threatened by near fatal disease.

Buy Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99, as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99 or get a free taster on Amazon using Look Inside.

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

PIPPED MY USA FACEBOOK FRIENDS TO THE POST

I know it’s not a football match, but I can’t help being proud that the Old Country managed to get out the Coronavirus Vaccine before the USA did. The first woman patient in the UK had the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine on Tuesday December 8th and Josh and I had ours the next day, December 10th. We’re due the 2nd dose on December 30th.

We will still have to be careful – wear masks and socially distance – but we won’t feel we are taking our life in our hands when we venture out. Great to be able to go to the supermarket again. People are supposed to wear masks in shops, but they don’t all and there are stories of people being very aggressive if you try to tell them to be sensible. And we can go to Art Galleries again – once they re-open.

Josh said he didn’t feel the injection at all, but though I didn’t feel the needle go in, injecting the solution was a bit uncomfortable. The injection site was a little tender on the 2nd day, but now I’d have to look in the mirror to see where I had the injection to find the site. So far, no side effects. They do say that us oldies experience less side effects with the Covid vaccine.

Hope it works out for all of you.

My Vaccine Card

Read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster for free.

Many thanks to all those who wrote to say they were enjoying my new book Abby’s Tales of Then and Now It is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour.

Woman in a White Coat

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO STOCK UP ON??

My favourite bay in Tesco’s

We shouldn’t go crazy and be selfish but it’s only sensible to check that we have enough of the essentials for when the dreaded Coronavirus rears its ugly head again. There are spikes all over the world, though we have to hope that the race between a deadly pandemic and the vaccine is won in our favour.

I have to admit that I was worried enough to pay a silly price on eBay for a giant pack of toilet paper when toilet paper completely vanished from the shops. We still have some left now, when the supermarket shelves are full.

The commodity I missed most was bread flour. We hate stodgy supermarket highly processed bread and, except for an occasional artisan loaf, I bake all my own. As an aged and vulnerable couple, we were able to book supermarket delivery slots, but week after week there would be bread flour on their product list, but my grocery would arrive with a ‘flour out of stock’ notice. Same for yeast and baking powder. I was able to buy bread flour from a baker in 2.5kg packages but being a 5 foot nothing lady I found it quite a thing shlepping 10 kg of flour. So, I’ll make sure I have a reasonable amount of flour in stock. I am only just finishing the 500gm pack of Fermipan dried yeast I found online and have a spare ready for the next few months.

I was delighted to read in Martynoga’ s excellent book ‘The Virus’ that soap is as good or better at killing the virus than sanitisers because it dissolves their essential outer membrane. I bought a packet of antiseptic wipes as well as a little bottle of sanitizer but prefer to use the antiseptic wipes to wipe down surfaces I must touch.

Our older son got us some pretty masks, but the elastic pulls out my hearing aids – apparently a common problem. I bought some extenders, but the elastic still caught.  I ordered a mask that goes over the back of your head, rather than over your ears. Silly me!! I then realised that I could alter mine by cutting the elastic that fits over your ears in half and re-joining it so that it slips over your head. Easy/ peasy!!

When we come home from our short outings, I wash my masks in hot soapy water and as an extra precaution use them in turn and I don’t have to stock up on disposable masks.

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now. It is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster  for free.

 

 

 

 

 

Or read her memoir

Woman in a White Coat

O

OUR UNSUNG HEROES

My oral hygienist’s chair

We all clapped and cheered for our NHS and other heroes who risked their lives to save ours – and quite right. But what about our Unsung Heroes, who now are coming into the line of fire – workers whose professions bring them into potentially dangerous close contact with us, like our dentists and oral hygienists.

My oral hygienist, who has been helping me keep my remaining teeth for the last 14 years, assures me that the fact that I collect lots of calculus around my teeth, so that they need scaling every 3 or 4 months, is not to do with Central London’s hard water, but the constituents of my saliva. Whatever the cause of my heavy accumulation, a visit to the Oral Hygienist was long overdue.

She has worn a mask and gloves since I first went to her, but she does not, of course, wear full PPE and so is at some risk from patients stupid and uncaring enough not to self-isolate when knowingly exposed to Coronavirus infection. I was interested to see that, when I rinsed my mouth, my washings were disposed of safely, not tipped into the bowl attached to the dental chair as in the past.

Especially now that the number of cases of Coronavirus in the UK is worryingly high, we should appreciate these less popular members of the caring professions even more.

I qualified in medicine after training as a dentist and was always amused by the fact that at the end of a course of treatment, when I had taken great care to cause my patient as little pain and discomfort as possible, my dental patient would shake my hand and say

‘I’m glad I won’t be seeing you again.’

In contrast, as a doctor, I might have had difficulty getting a needle into a vein, making several painful attempts, but my patient would still thank me profusely and say they looked forward to their next visit and discussing their diagnosis and treatment.

I was the same person but the patient’s view of my two professions was so different!!

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now. It is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster for free.

TOUCHY-FEELY -REFLECTIONS WHILST SHIELDING

Take care and keep safe

I’m not one of those people who are always touching you as you stand talking to them – poking you in the ribs, touching you on the arm – but I find I miss the human touch. I’m lucky, I have Josh to give me a quick kiss and a cuddle, but I miss the casual kisses and hugs that have come to be part of normal greeting.

We didn’t kiss or cuddle in our family and I remember being surprised and delighted when Josh’s rather reserved parents kissed me when I arrived for a meal and when I left. I soon got used to kissing our friends hullo and goodbye, though I think Josh always had some reservations about greeting our male friends that way. Soon, a kiss and a hug was how we greeted everyone.

However, I certainly wasn’t happy about being given a quick cuddle by my much taller male colleagues when I was working as a senior pathology consultant. That’s the trouble with being five foot nothing – they felt it was fine to give me a cuddle as they passed me in the corridor, even when I absolutely didn’t fancy them.

It was worse when I had my one and only perm. My dark hair frizzed up like the back of a curly haired sheep and my colleagues couldn’t resist patting me on the head. Once was enough. It was back to my nearly straight hair and a French pleat as soon as it grew out.

For years I’ve had my hair cut really short but after five months of shielding it’s long enough for a little bun and soon I shall have a French pleat again –white now, not the deep black it was when I last wore my hair up.

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now. It is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster

BREAKOUT AFTER LOCKDOWN

Lovely to see a full supermarket and more being unpacked.
Just before lockdown, the fruit and veg racks were virtually empty!!

Yes, we were fortunate in that, being aged and vulnerable, after a couple of weeks we were able to get supermarkets slots. It was all very well, but inevitably, although they appeared on their websites, some items would be unavailable on the day. Flour, yeast and baking powder were particularly hard to come by. I was able to buy 10kg of bread flour in 2.5kg packets from eBay at a moderate price but was reduced to paying £7.99 for a £1.50 bag of self raising flour. There were plenty of profiteers out there.

The bliss of being allowed out to shop in person!! We went to a large Tesco’s very early on the first Monday vulnerable people were allowed out. There were hardly any other shoppers and the store was immaculate. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I approached the Baking aisle. Such a variety of different flours! And being able to choose just the size and kind of fruit and vegetables we like.

OK – I’ve been to the Uffizi, glided down the waterways in Venice, seen a giant hippo on the lawn in Malawi, but that Tesco store was right up there with them!! Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder.

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now is£2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster for free.

https://amzn.to/3hX6z2D

A SEQUEL TO THE MEMOIR OF AN EAST END GIRL

 

After I published my memoir Woman in a White Coat, I started on a sequel to be called 25 Houses, dredging up those memories I had left out. But after writing some 28k words, I lost interest. I then tried my hand at sci-fi – parallel universe stuff – and joined a writing class at our local library for a couple of terms to develop it, but soon I ran out of steam.

Our writers’ circle has been meeting every fortnight for 10 years now. At first, we met over coffee and homemade muffins in my flat and then, since lockdown, on Zoom.

Our agreement is that we have to bring some writing, large or small, to each meeting and I hadn’t written anything for the following Tuesday. I’d started posting regularly again on my blog and on social media, so I brought those pieces to our circle, by now some 72 illustrated blogs and posts.

Our children had seen and commented on some of them, but some they had missed. I decided to publish them on Amazon as an eBook on Kindle and as a paperback, with the title Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a free taster.

At age 88, it was time to think about leaving something behind

The price is determined by Kindle Direct Publishing and is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster for free.

https://amzn.to/3hX6z2D

 

NEW PANASONIC BREADMAKER – YES! BECAUSE I’M WORTH IT

Anadama bread

 

 

 

 

 

The centre groove is where the machine paddle rests

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, I didn’t really need a new breadmaker. There was nothing wrong with my old one, but I fancied a newer model. Because of the coronavirus buying frenzy, and so many of us deciding to bake our own bread, Panasonic breadmakers vanished from Amazon and Panasonic UK, only for a few to appear on eBay at profiteering prices.

Our daughter Louise, who lives in the Basque Country, found one on Panasonic (Spain). She’d had her old one for at least 15 years and it had begun to leak around the spindle. She tried putting in a washer but it didn’t help. As in the UK, the local electrical stores and Amazon es were empty of Panasonic breadmakers. However, before any re-appeared in the UK at list price, she found one on Spanish Panasonic.

Of course, I had to have the same model but none was available except at a silly price. Finally, my search for a breadmaker resulted in a pop-up note from Amazon offering one at a sensible price from Belgium. I ordered one at once, but when I looked at the site again, to check that my order had gone through, they were once again unavailable. Luckily, my motto is carpe diem and I had seized the moment!!

But it was some sort of con!! After 2 weeks, I contacted the seller who said it had been despatched and then that he had asked UPS to send me a tracking number. I heard nothing more and contacted him again only to be told it hadn’t been sent and did I want a refund!! Fortunately, I had ordered via Amazon who are excellent about refunds and I have already had the money refunded.

I put the code for the breadmaker into Google and was delighted to find that John Lewis had online stock. It arrived today. It bakes beautifully and has the advantage of a window that lets you see at what stage your bread is.

Anadama bread is a traditional New England bread whose yellow colour comes from the addition of molasses and cornmeal. I used polenta, which is a cornmeal made from otto file corn.

It is said to have got its name from a hungry fisherman saying ‘Anna, damn her’ after being served by his wife nothing but cornmeal and molasses for supper, day in day out. In desperation, he (or maybe she) threw in some flour and yeast and so made Anadama bread.

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

Recipe for Anadama Machine Made Loaf

Basic bread program

360gm white bread flour                                                                    

75gm wholemeal bread flour

65 gm polenta

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