Tag Archives: Covid-19

25 HOUSES – A SEQUEL TO ‘WOMAN IN A WHITE COAT’

The Goulston Street entrance of Wentworth Dwellings, now shuttered. Our flat was on the third floor right

I started writing the sequel to my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ several times, but Covid has been my excuse for setting it side. Our writing group has been meeting once a fortnight on Zoom. It’s a good substitute, but there’s nothing like talking and laughing over cafetière coffee and homemade muffins to get the juices flowing.

I’ve got no excuse now. Things have eased up a bit, and though at 90 I still have to be cautious, we are starting to meet up with friends, though our writing group will go on Zooming, now that one member has moved out of London and another now lives in Glasgow.

The title ’25 Houses’ relates to the number of houses, flats and hospital residents’ quarters I have lived in. When Josh and I got married in 1956, we first lived in a basement flat near the hospital where I was a medical student. Thereafter we moved every five or so years. We moved that often because I’m one of those people who loves change – even if it’s for the worse!!

However, we have been in our apartment in Westminster for the last 15 years, since 2006. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t live to see the new century. Who’d have thought I’d still be here in 2021?. I guess our next move will be the permanent one.

I was born in Mother Levy’s Maternity Hospital in Whitechapel in 1931 and then it was off to a cold water tenement in Wentworth Dwellings, in what was known at Petticoat Lane in London’s East End. With the outbreak of WW2 on September 1939, when I was not quite eight years old, my wanderings began.

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

BOOSTER DOSE – 3RD TIME LUCKY

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid  Secretary of State for Health and Social Care emailed me:

I am writing to you because you were previously identified as clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. This means you were thought to be at high risk of becoming very ill if you caught the virus.

and I had a text from the local Hospital Trust:

We are inviting you to have your booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as our records show you are eligible

So I had my ‘flu vaccine and then my third, booster dose of Covid vaccine, a week later. Now, just over a week short of my 90th birthday, if I do get the dreaded virus, it should only be a mild attack, not requiring hospitalisation and a spell in ICU. I was on a ventilator when I had a near-fatal heart attack in 2016 and I really don’t want to go there again. At my age, it’s not a question of if, but when. However, dying of Covid, gasping for breath, is not a great way to go.

The COVID-19 vaccines were developed so quickly because we now have gene sequencing and all the fantastic technology that went into formulating them. Worldwide, over 6 billion doses have been administered. Not one of the several powerful medications that I, and other patients with long term medical conditions, take every day was ever tested on so many people before being approved. It’s horrible to think about the nearly 5 million people who died from this dreadful pandemic but fantastic that help is finally at hand.

I usually get a sore arm after the ‘flu vaccine but this time I had a sore area for a couple of days after the Covid vaccine instead. Luckily, I’ve had no general side effects from any of the vaccine doses.

We are so lucky to have a brilliant National Health Service!!

15 minute post accination waiting area

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

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

Simon and Bernard 1962. Hard to believe they are now 61 and about to be 59

My two pairs of children – two boys and after three years, two girls – adored each other as toddlers and babies. Our sons live in London and are therefore still close, but our daughters live abroad so rarely meet except for major family events like our 80th and 90th birthdays.

I’m sure that as a toddler Louise thought Jane was her special possession. At the first peep of a demand for a feed, Louise would pull at my skirt, wailing ‘Ninny crying! Ninny crying!’ Fortunately that nickname didn’t stick. This year when Jane, having had chemotherapy and a total gastrectomy for stomach cancer, was left alone when her husband needed surgery, Louise flew to Switzerland from Spain to be with her at that worrying time – braving the huge queues at the airports because of Covid.

Not that there was always peace between the sibs, but let no-one from outside dare attack any one of them!! Their motto was definitely ‘All for One and One for All’. 

It’s very sad to read of brothers and sisters who have lost contact, haven’t seen or heard from each other for years. One wrote to say she only discovered her brother had got married when she read about it on Facebook.

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.

Visit my blog at https://abbyjw.com

Woman in a White Coat

HAVING FAMILY TO DINNER AGAIN

Until Janice pointed it out, I hadn’t realised it was eighteen months since I last saw my daughter-in-law. She and Simon live near Bath, though Simon comes up to London for work four days a week and, once it was allowed, sometimes came to dinner. What with Lockdown and her job as a geriatrician, Janice and I just hadn’t met up.

It was lovely having them and our son Bernard to dinner. We had, of course, all carried out a Lateral Flow Covid test on ourselves before meeting up, just in case!!

Josh made one of his delicious signature salmon and asparagus frittatas, accompanied by a mixed salad, and I cooked a Waitrose recipe, plum cake. The cake was delicious, but I should have baked it in a larger springform tin. In the tin I chose, the dough rose so high it buried my pattern of plum slices on the top. The men had their dessert with crème fraiche, while Janice and I indulged in our favourite Puffer Cream.

Plum cake – Waitrose recipe

I enjoy cooking and baking. Not being able to have  friends and family to dinner is something I really missed during Lockdown. I’m sure it’s because I’m not sharing my cooking that I’ve put on the extra four kilos I am now struggling to lose. I shall just have to start counting calories again – the only way it works for me to slim.

Well, not quite the only way. When I was on a ventilator and fed by nasogastric tube after my heart attack, I lost 4 kilos in just 3 weeks. I wouldn’t want to go through that again and nor would my family. Simon told me that for ages he couldn’t bear to cycle past the hospital where I had been fighting for my life. At a meeting of heart attack survivors and their partners, we were invited to revisit the wards where our lives had been saved. A couple of wives told me they had difficulty getting in the lift to go up to the Intensive Care Unit – their memories of that time were so painful.

Another problem is that all my recipes are geared for six – for Josh and me and our four children. And of course, when they were younger and lived at home, the two boys could eat for four. I got used to us clearing up after a two or three course dinner only to hear a plaintive –‘Can I have a Sarnie, Mum?’ from one or both of the boys.

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

ARE YOU TWO TOGETHER? – SUPERMARKET RULES RE COVID-19

I was a lot slimmer in 1956

We started going into supermarkets separately when we were first instructed not to shop in groups but to shop singly. I asked a Tesco manager ‘What about the aged? Oldies like us?’. ‘It’s fine,’ he said, ‘Don’t worry. It’s not meant for couples like you.’

But Josh said he didn’t want the hassle of being told off by an officious security guard and now we find it’s a good thing having separate lists. We cook on alternate days and often want very different ingredients, so this new arrangement works fine.

Except we often arrive at the checkout at the same time.

‘Are you together?’, the cashier asks as we combine our trolleys. ‘We have been for 65 years,’ I gloat.

The response varies from ‘Really. 65 years? How fantastic,’ to ‘Amazing. And you’re still married?’

It’s as if it’s strange for people to stay married!!

When we were young, the only divorced person we knew, well not ‘knew’ but ‘knew of’, was Wallis Simpson – and what a scandal that all was!! For my generation, ‘Till death do us part’ meant just that!!

And couples all got married. I can remember the first time a neighbour said her daughter had moved in with her boyfriend, and how shocked I was. I wasn’t shocked at the idea of her daughter living in what was then sin, but that she had told me! In those days you’d be ashamed to admit such a sinful occurrence and there were plenty of ‘shotgun’ weddings, with the ‘bump’ hidden by discrete adjustment of the bride’s wedding dress. And many seven-month babies resulted!!

I really don’t know where all those years have gone – the good and the bad: the joys of our children’s successes, so much more satisfying than our own, and the horrors of their illnesses and accidents – again much more heart-rending than those we suffered ourselves.

Thanks to Boris there will now be a rush to carry out those marriages delayed by COVID-19 – and long may they last!!

To love and to cherish until death do us part.

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

GOING ON A BIG RED LONDON BUS AGAIN

Aren’t they gorgeous??

It was great to board a red London double-decker bus for the first time in over a year!! The nursery rhyme, the wheels on the bus go round and round, ran though my head as we tapped our Freedom Passes and took our seats. The three other masked passengers already seated nodded and kept their social distance.

The wheels on the bus go round and round

All ‘round the town

The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish

The driver on the bus goes ‘Move on back’

The people on the bus go up and down

The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep

The baby on the bus goes ‘whaa whaa whaa’

The parents on the bus go ‘shh, shh, shh’

Before Covid, I used to drive to my various Further Education classes. I have a Blue Disabled Badge because of my bad hip and previous heart attack, and mostly I could find a parking space nearby. I had to give up in despair and go back home only a couple of times in all the years I’ve been attending these courses.

There’s a bus stop close by all three of the Westminster Libraries I patronise, so until Covid, I used to go to those by bus. Fortunately, there is also a Home Library in our district and, since Lockdown, a very polite young man brings me six books of his choice every third Friday. I specified Whodunits and usually I have only already read one or two of them at most.

It’s wonderful to be able to shop in person again instead of ordering everything online. You can see and feel the merchandise and find the odd thing you don’t need but must have!!

We thought about driving to Tottenham Court Road to go to two of my favourite shops – Muji and Flying Tiger – but fortunately we decided against it. It was a nightmare. It is now a two-way street, having been one way towards Hampstead Road for many years. Much of it was closed to all vehicles except buses and cycles. Cars, taxis and lorries all forbidden. The worst thing was that the bus stops are far apart and for a disabled person the walk to the next stop was a pain – literally!!

I bought the drawer insert in Muji that I needed, visited the new Lidl that replaced Sainsbury’s at the other end of Tottenham Court Road and had a look around Flying Tiger.

Not a lot of purchases to show for my trip but gorgeous to be free to go on a Big Red Bus again!!

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.

About ‘Woman in a White Coat’

COOK, EAT, TV, SLEEP then COOK, EAT, TV, SLEEP again

 

One year a Mallard duck came to visit the balcony of our 9th floor flat but not this year

Boring, boring, boring. It started in February, when I looked around my tightly packed Art History class and decided that with the accounts of the new circulating Coronavirus, it wasn’t safe to go on attending. There was a short gap in the summer, with the reduction in the number of Covid-19 cases, when we ventured out to get new spectacles, have our hearing aids adjusted and our teeth scaled and polished. Best of all, we felt able to visit supermarkets instead of having food delivered.

Then the second wave started. We are lucky in being old and vulnerable and able to get delivery slots, but we missed picking out the produce for ourselves. We would never have chosen a carrot weighing 500gms or tiny clementines, little more than a mouthful.

The local home library delivers six books every three weeks and I have attended some Art History classes on Zoom. Recently I made myself get out my Ancient Greek exercises and started practising the piano again. And I re-opened the sequel to my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’. I had written some 28k words but hadn’t felt able to face revisiting all those old memories of my ’25 Houses’ – the number of houses, flats, billets and hospital accommodations I have lived in.

I’m bored and fed up with being stuck indoors. Living in the centre of London, I don’t enjoy going for local walks, though we do drive out to quiet places to have a short walk on Sundays. We are back to supermarket food deliveries but now, finally, there is an end in sight.

I tick so many health problem boxes, I would be unlikely to survive a bout of Covid-19, so I am absolutely delighted to hear that the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine has been passed for distribution in the UK. Being well over 80, we shouldn’t have to wait too long for our turn to be vaccinated. It is recommended that we should still practice social distancing and wear masks when indoors after being vaccinated, but what freedom – feeling we can go to shops and art galleries and cinemas without fearing for our lives.

And No, I don’t have any reservations about getting vaccinated. We blithely had all those mandatory vaccinations when travelling to Africa without a second thought and some of them had quite nasty side effects.

From BBC News

VERA LYNN PROMISED THAT WE’D MEET AGAIN -– AND WE DID

March 17th 2020 was the last time we were out and about and the last person we saw up close was an AA mechanic. We had gone to the local Waitrose and, when we came back to our car, it wouldn’t start. We called the AA and the mechanic told us that, after several good years, the battery had given up and we needed a new one. Fortunately, he carried a replacement in his vehicle.

Since then, the only other people Josh and I have seen in person are the concierges of our flats and the supermarket delivery people– one very jolly woman driver and the rest rather dour men.

Now that there has been some relaxation of lockdown, the Sunday before last we met with our younger son, Bernie, outside Tate Britain and last Thursday we met with our older son, Simon, in the courtyard of our flats – both at the required 2 metres.

We’re not a great family for kissing and cuddling but I really missed not being able to give them a hug and getting a hug back.

Louise, who lives in the Basque Country is hoping to come to the UK in the summer, even if she has to stay in a YMCA hostel and meet us in our courtyard, and we hope that Jane, who lives in Switzerland, will be able to pop over too.

Happy Days!!

The boys had a lot more hair then!! Simon is now almost 60 and Bernard is getting on for 58. Neither of them became an architect or a builder.

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