It was thirty years since we met one Sunday afternoon, in a rather stark nurses’ home, where we lived at the start of our training. We were part of a set of 60. (Other ‘sets’ also lived in the home, including the ‘God-Squad.’) No men and no male visitors were permitted in the rooms after a certain time. We had a night porter and a home matron. We had to be adults on the wards and were treated like children in the home. Each corridor had one small kitchen with one small domestic fridge between 15 girls: one’s cheese and milk often disappeared. Each room had a bed and a built-in wardrobe affair which contained a dressing table/ desk and a wash hand basin. We were allowed a kettle as long as it had passed the electrician’s test, but that was about it. The bathrooms were at the end of the corridor, each containing an old fashioned, large hospital bath, not very different from the old fashioned baths at our local swimming pool in the town where I grew up.
It wasn’t long before we had had enough. Eventually we found a house to rent and our little group of 5 moved out. Nowadays that house, in that state, would be considered very grotty. But to us? What bliss. How grown up. Independence, parties, space, bills. Our own phone. We recruited help in erecting a shed (albeit a lop-sided shed) to house 5 bikes. Other sub-sets of the larger group of 60 also moved out of the home to ‘with-in cycling distance’ of the several hospital sites and of course, visiting distance from us.
Each year we have a reunion as close as possible to the original starting date. Just our little group. This year, for the fourth year we had one night in a posh hotel, several meals out, enough to drink and a huge amount of laughing. There is something very special about the friends made in that period of growing up, just after leaving home. Such a shame that one of the five is missing. You were missed, C, very much.