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This week’s diary of a Centre Organiser comes from April 1951.
If it wasn’t that Miss Rime can type like an angel, and has the most perfect memory for the smallest detail of everything that ever happens in the office, we sometimes feel we couldn’t bear with her another minute. She is a Samuel Johnson “ fan ” and quotes from his writings on every possible (and impossible) occasion—especially when asked to do any job on which she is not particularly keen. We are all very tired of her oft-repeated :
“ Catch, then, O catch the transient hour ;
Improve each moment as it flies ;
Life’s a short summer—man a flower—
He dies—alas!—how soon he dies! ”
—followed by a deeply heaved sigh and a look of martyrdom. Today, however, we felt a new respect for her—and for Samuel Johnson. A woman caller had pestered her with questions : about sickness benefit (“ I really cannot answer that—you should go to the National Insurance Office ”) ; financial assistance (“ The National Assistance Board may be able to help you ”), and so on, until the visitor, seeing she would get nothing from us, said sneeringly : “You don’t seem to know how to help a poor body, do you ? Pushing it all on to somebody else! ” Quick as a flash came Miss Rime’s retort : “ Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it! ”
Spring colds have laid low several of our more experienced members and the office has been manned recently by some of the newer ones. Felt an “ atmosphere ” when I arrived this morning to find our well-loved District Nurse obviously “ parked ” on a hard chair—awaiting my arrival. Knowing how precious every minute of her day is to her, I enquired anxiously: “ Couldn’t Miss Newcome help you? ” Before Nurse had time to answer I felt an urgent tug at my sleeve, and a fierce whisper warned me : “ She came to ask for a pull-over for one of her children who has had measles . . . and she says her name is Miss Jones. Don’t you think we ought to get on to the Moral Welfare Officer------? ” Had quite a job explaining (after due introductions had been made, and Nurse had departed with a pull-over) that she refers to all her cases in the same manner : “ One of my mothers,” “ one of my husbands,” and so on. Miss Newcome—in whom we have been unable, as yet, to discover any trace of a sense of humour— was only partially mollified. “ I do feel,” she said rather primly, “ that this method of expression is more than a trifle misleading.”
Had a letter today from a W.V.S. friend in Surrey whose village has hitherto lagged behind in recruitment for the Civil Defence Corps. Knowing that the one subject guaranteed to lure people from their homes is “ Local Rights of Way and Footpaths ” (about which feeling has run extremely high), a Public Meeting was advertised in the local Press . . . “ at which Civil Defence will also be discussed ”— and over 70 people attended. Having well and truly dealt with Rights of Way the audience, now thoroughly roused, responded with enthusiasm to the suggestion that there was equal urgency to join Civil Defence, and enrolment forms were handed round, completed and signed forthwith! “ Of course,” my friend admitted in a postscript, “ my being Chairman of the Parish Council helped a great deal in bringing about the meeting.”
Steamed Suet Pudding
In these days of short meat ration, make the most of any fat the butcher gives you. There is nothing to beat a good Steamed Suet Pudding, sweet or savoury and excellent for young and old.
Basic Recipe :
1 cup Breadcrumbs. 1/2 teasp. Salt.
1 cup Chopped Suet. 1/2 teasp. Baking Powder.
Water to mix.
Mix dry ingredients and mix to a stiff paste with the water. Roll out and use as desired. Steam for 1 1/2 hours but see that water is always boiling and never add water that is not boiling. When bowl is taken from water let it stand a few minutes before turning out the pudding.
Sugarless Sauce to serve with the above :
1 tablesp. Sweetened Condensed Milk.
1/2 pint water, thickened with wetted cornflour. Vary by adding chopped nuts, cherries, ginger or some wine.
Hints : Serve Vitamin D by way of using Cod Liver Oil instead of fat for all fish sauces.
If you want your meringues to look professional, include some Icing Sugar with the castor sugar.
This week's Diary of a Centre Organiser comes from the WVS Bulletin, November 1951
Matron is always glad when a young son or daughter, nephew or niece, accompanies one or more of our Trolley Shop team on their weekly rounds at the Old People’s Hospital. The patients enjoy seeing the children and one of them, 86 year old Mr Croke, gives great joy as a rule by moving sideways on his water-bed so that a glup-glup noise is made as he rocks the contents. Today, however, no smile broke the solemnity of a young visitor’s face when Mr Croke did his trick. Instead, overwhelmed with curiosity, the small boy took a step forward and asked anxiously : “If I put my finger in your mouth, would I feel the water?”
Have not yet found a niche in W.V.S. for Miss Pheckless. Had wondered whether she could deliver some of our Meals on Wheels, but my eye happened to light on an entry for August (when I was away) in our office Day Book which read : “Police called to ask us to remove some containers which had been standing outside No 5 London Street (an empty, boarded-up house) for some days and which were causing annoyance to the neighbours. Sent Miss Brown to collect them.” A later entry stated : “Miss Brown reported the containers were without lids, were buzzing with flies and smelling violently. Have traced that the meals were left by Miss Pheckless instead of at No 5 London Road.” Felt ashamed of myself for not reading the August entries before: what is the use of keeping a Day Book if nobody reads it? Was glad to discover due apologies had been sent to No 5 London Road.
Tunny Fish en Casserole
1 medium size tin tunny fish
1 medium size onion (chopped)
3 packets potato crisps
Pepper and salt
1 tin mushroom soup
Line a casserole dish with one packet of potato crisps. Break the tunny fish into small pieces. Place part of it in the casserole, then a small quantity of the chopped onion; repeat until supply of tunny fish and onion are exhausted. Pour into the casserole the tin of soup (which has previously been heated) and put into a moderate oven for about half an hour. Cover the top with a layer of potato crisps, return to the oven for another ten minutes, garnish with parsley and serve.
Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 00:00
Tuesday, 11 August 2015.
heritage Bulletin Blog,
Meals on Wheels ,
Tunny Fish casserole,
This week a story from February 1955.
TRAVEL may sound odd in conjunction with a hospital trolley shop, but those who manoeuvre our trolley at a particular hospital will agree that is the only word for it. The journey by van, lift, or sheer mountaineering on foot with the help of a kindly porter, leaves no doubt as to its authenticity, or the trolley’s similarity to the original ending of the title.
Still, however mulish its back wheels can become, it plays its part sturdily in all circumstances. In addition, the noise it can make in certain corridors is valuable in warning the patients of our approach, thereby saving time by them having their money ready. We were joyfully greeted on one occasion with “Oh good, here’s the trolley shop”, so we venture to hope that the noise is not too bad. Seriously, it is a rewarding task, and a privilege, to be allowed to bring a little of the outside world to those confined to hospital; whether they are the sick, or the bright and helpful staff who with every courtesy make us feel welcome.
The patients love to have a chat and the opportunity to buy something for those at home. The anticipation in awaiting the happy surprise their relatives and friends receive on being given these unexpected gifts is, I am sure, a tonic to the patients. A man’s wife has a birthday coming, a mother can send sweets to the children, the things they thought would have to wait until they were well again are brought to them on the trolley shop. The nurses too are not forgotten. A patient shows appreciation by asking a nurse to choose something for herself: “ She has been so good,” they say.
So the shop-on-wheels is not just something being pushed round to sell things; it is a means by which we learn to understand the needs of others in many ways.
There are frantic moments when one is asked for the unusual, and the empties are forgotten in the reckoning up, but the thought of the dainty tea waiting in the canteen, served with such kindness, fortifies us.
Thus ends another day of travel and we look forward to the next. A mixed pleasure, for sometimes we find friends not there, but we hope it means their recovery and re-union with family and home.