My memoir Woman in a White Coat starts 85 years ago in October 1931, two years before this studio portrait was taken.
Who would have thought this serious little girl would qualify in dentistry and medicine, become an entrepreneur and end up as a consultant pathologist in a major London teaching hospital.
I was born at a time when a girl’s only future was marriage and children – though I managed those too – married to the same loving husband for 60 years with four wonderful children and four equally wonderful grandchildren.
There are 30 days in April and my memoir presently has 29 chapters so if I edit one chapter a day my memoir will be ready to be uploaded as an e-book by the end of the month. That is my April Fool’s Day resolution.
If you email me at abby(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)abbyjw.com I will send you the first chapter and if you comment I will send you another. Hope to hear from you.
I never had any soft toys as a child – we were too poor for such luxuries. We had a game of Ludo and that was that, but Josh and I showered our four children and grandchildren with soft toys. Josh especially finds them irresistible. Our John Dobbie toyshop always had loads.
When I saw this gorgeous soft cuddly teddy bear in the Gothenburg Airport shop I had to have it. He sits on my bedside table with the two or three books I am in the process of reading and sometimes creeps into bed with me.
As a child, I lived in a cramped cold-water tenement in Petticoat Lane. We played outside whenever we could, though on rainy days we’d slip into the unused communal laundry room on the top floor of our block.
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→
Yes, yes – it’s another cookbook. I saw it on our last visit to the Lakeland store and found it irresistible.
I bought a spiralizer a while ago when my vegetarian grand-daughter said it was all the rage, but other than spiralizing s courgette to add to a green salad and a carrot to add to my chicken soup, my spiralizer had languished in the cupboard.
However, looking through the Spiralizer Cookbook on display in Lakeland, there were so many appetising-looking recipes. Lots of them are low calorie and will help in my fight against putting on weight. It’s hard if you enjoy cooking.
So far I’ve only made the Celeriac Remoulade but I must try Catherine Atkinson’s spiralized potato cake and potato latkes. I shall certainly be looking at some of her other cookbooks.
Memoir extract from Woman in a White Coat I learned to cook after I finished my second house job as a new qualified doctor. I had qualified as a dental surgeon five years earlier.
When I finished my second house job I was five months pregnant. I was unlikely to find a part-time temporary job in medicine and I couldn’t face the thought of standing all day in a dental practice, though it would have been much easier to find a locum dental appointment. I decided to take a cookery course instead. At that time, I could cook omelettes and minestrone, but not much else. Only the girls in the lower streams at school did cookery and my mother had always shooed me away.
‘Food is rationed,’ she’d say. ‘Don’t want you wasting good food. Time enough to learn to cook when you get married.’
Louise and her family come over from San Sebastian Easter, August and Christmas – during the school and college holidays. They always come bearing goodies – this time they brought this delicious box of strawberries and jars of my favourite pickled peppers.
We’ve tried buying picked peppers in London but have only been able to find the fatter tough peppers that are best used for cooking. I like to have a pickled pepper in my home-made cream cheese sandwiches.
I might try this tongue twister on my Basque grandchildren.
‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter picked?’
I wonder who remembers how much a ‘peck’ is – 9.0923 litres or ¼ bushel. A bushel is a measure of volume (1.2445 cubic feet or 8 gallons) used originally for quantities of grain, fruit or other produce, so the actual weight would vary depending on the contents.
As a children in pre-WW2 London we had to learn all these old measures like rods, poles, perches and chains as measurements of length. Acres (4840 square yards) are still used as measures of area, particularly in farmland.
I like to provide home-made cake or muffins for the meetings of our Writers Circle but the last time we went to Sainsbury’s they had sold out of plain ready-to-bake croissants so I thought I would try their ready to bake Pains au Chocolat. I don’t really care for sweet things so I only had half of one but the rest were gone in a flash as soon as we pulled our left-over Christmas Crackers .
We always have crackers on New Year’s Eve – Louise and her family spend Christmas with her in-laws in the Basque Country but from December 27th to January 5th with us. Twelfth Night (January 6th) is a big day in Spain so I’m always sad when January 5th comes round and they leave in time to celebrate The Three Kings (Los Tres Reyes) at home.
I like to keep a couple of packets of Sainsbury’s ready-to-bake frozen croissants in the freezer for when our children and their families fly in to London too late for dinner but hungry enough for a snack.
Just 20 minutes at 200°C and they’re done. Josh says that they taste better left to stand for a few hours so I either bake them the night before or on the morning they are due to arrive. There are never many left especially when my growing grandsons arrive. I try to resist them myself – too many calories!!
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→