Thank you so much for the lovely photographs of Eleanor Dorothy’s christening. Wee Duncan looked splendid, so sweet, bright and mischievous. Is he still enjoying being a big brother? It’s a pity that our ‘Easter’ holiday is so short and I must make a duty visit to see Steppy. I am so looking forward to seeing you all in the summer, marvelling at how much my godson has grown and making the acquaintance of young Miss Gellatly.
I’m so pleased you managed to have the ceremony before Gren’s operation so she was able to hold her little goddaughter at the font. Meg wrote that the latest bone graft was looking good but it would be some time before they could be sure it had taken. Poor Gren, I’ve lost count of how many operations she has had now.
Life here carries on as usual though the recent bitter cold has been a trial. Plas Howell could be chilly in the winter but this draughty relic is an icebox - we were all putting on extra clothes to go to bed! Of course, the Middles had to have an adventure, Did I remember to tell you that Biddy O’Ryan had come back from Australia to teach History? I can’t say I ever took to the girl. She was a little pest at school but then Nell Wilson was by way of being her guardian and she got away with a lot. She is as ‘lively’ as ever (bumptious is nearer the mark!). She also still has that irritating habit of dropping into cod Irish at odd intervals.
Anyway, she decided to take her charges for a walk which involved them coming down a steep and icy slope. What was only to be expected happened, the girls and Biddy slid and slithered, landing in bushes and against posts, and two of them even came down on hands and knees, to the ruin of their stockings. I happened to be in the vicinity when they arrived back and a more disreputable bunch you never saw, bruised, battered and torn!
Bill’s reaction was predictable, she thought it funny and only to be expected from the irrepressible Biddy. If it had happened to my walk it would have been, “Really, Grizel, where’s your common sense?” Matey would probably have expected me to pay for the torn hosiery!
I have a couple of new piano pupils, neither a star. One of them, Carola Johnstone, has the promise of a really fine voice but, sadly, her musicality fails to reach her fingers! She would be more usefully employed having singing lessons but for some reason it has been decided that must wait until she’s seventeen. No-one asked my opinion so I didn’t venture it………….
Well, I suppose I must go and do some work. The Heads have decided that something must be done about the standard of the School’s German. It would be good to think that this is because we might soon return to Austria but that is not a likely prospect so I shall be stuck on this wretched island for a good while yet.
I hope the weather doesn’t stop you getting to Meg’s party which, if I know the Kellys, will be a wonderful evening!
Much love to you all and please give Duncan and Eleanor a big hug each from Auntie Grizel.
Thank you for your letter. We are all well, Eleanor is putting on weight and we are beginning to get stories! Wee Duncan is good with her, keeps showing her his books and telling her what the pictures are.
It sounds like you are not any happier in your place. I wish you had taken up that interview in Edinburgh. You could have got a lovely flat in the New Town and we would have seen you more often. You should try and get another job.
The weather is better here and we have landed lucky for the Doc’s Fellowship party. I was not looking forward to trying to get me, Wee Duncan and the baby into the sidecar but Dr Stewart has offered us a lift there and back! Dunc thinks he is sweet on Meg so he is trying to get into her good books! Some hopes!
It will be a good night. With the War they had no party when she graduated and you know she refuses to have anything for her birthday nowadays. They are going to make a real splash this time!
Dunc sends his best and Wee Duncan and Eleanor send kisses, all the best, Dolly.
Many thanks for all your cards, your good wishes and the absolutely beautiful bouquet! You really are wonderful and the flowers also had another effect of which more later.
I was very lucky that my parents managed to get the day off work to come with me and it was one of those cold but sunny mornings so we all enjoyed the train journey over the bridges. The Diploma ceremony was impressive and very nerve-wracking. Edinburgh always tries to intimidate you with its history but I kept calm by reminding myself that my MBChB is from a much older university! I was the only woman in the group and, of course, the official Surgeons Dinner takes place in a Club which is strictly men only. I didn’t mind at all as Prof Fairlie took us for high tea in the North British Hotel and then drove us home, meaning we crossed on both ferries too!
The Infirmary went a bit daft. When I went into Casualty next morning there was a huge banner above the door saying “Congratulations, Miss Kelly” and they had made a giant card which was signed by all the hospital staff and seemingly every patient who wasn’t in nappies or a coma!
Matron is too funny for words. This formidable lady has known me, called me Meg, and treated me with the mild disdain (and not so mild when I was walking the wards!) of the efficient matron since I was a plookie-faced fourteen year old with a Saturday job washing the pots in the Nurses Home canteen. Now she almost curtseys and it’s “Yes, Miss Kelly” and “Of course, Miss Kelly” and “Nurse! Get Miss Kelly a cup of tea!” I’ll enjoy it while it lasts which I suspect won’t be long……
The family threw a spectacular party for me. I knew they were planning something but I didn’t realise the scale until I was walked across the road to St David’s Hall. It was bedecked with flags, banners and fairy lights, there was more food than I’ve seen at one time since Gren’s wedding and my cousin’s band was there to play for the dancing. Don’t ask me how many people were there but with family, friends and work colleagues there must have been well over a hundred. Some of the old gang, Gren, Dougie, Dolly, Dunc, and unexpectedly, Robbie and Mary with her sister Kitty were there but the rest of you were much missed!
The photograph is me cutting the huge cake with the ‘assistance’ of Paddy, Tina and little Sandra. We try not to ask Eileen how she manages to get her hands on things like icing sugar or butter but I did want to know she got something of that size cooked. “Simple”, she says, “I just went into Kidd’s bake house and asked if I could borrow their largest tin for Dr Meg’s celebration cake. Not only did they provide the tin, they donated quantities of flour, sugar and dried fruit, mixed and baked it on site, and helped me ice it with all their professional equipment!” When I went in to thank them I discovered that most of them had been under my care at some point and I had reset the manager’s leg when he had a motorbike accident!
Oh, about the flowers! Kate being Kate, she wanted to know what some of the more unusual blooms were called so off she went to the florist to check. They were so impressed with her enthusiasm they offered her a job on Friday evenings making up buttonholes and posies for Saturday weddings. They wanted her to do deliveries on Saturday morning but that’s when she’s at the allotment so she passed that on to Mickey. Both of them are trying to save as much as they can because we have been invited to join Gren and Dougie when they visit the family home in Normandy in July! My experience of that part of France is anything but cheerful so it will be good to see all the places Gren has talked of so fondly!
Much love, Meg
PS Had to let you know I just received a letter from RAMC congratulating me on my FRCS and inviting me to report to Aldershot on Saturday 6th May for bi-annual training………….aargghhh!
I did mean to write earlier to congratulate you on becoming a fully-fledged surgeon but our good wishes are no less heartfelt for being late! Jack and I wish you a very long, happy and fulfilling career.
Life here has been its usual busy self. We have had German measles in our midst, both here and at the school. I did feel rather guilty about it because Jack had brought the girls over here just a few days before Stephen developed the rash though they didn’t actually see him. Con had had a bilious attack –Matey had the cheek to imply that I had fed them unsuitably rich food at half term, if you please – and Jack thought a boat trip and a couple of hours at home would do her good. Still, none of the children was really ill, either here or at St Briavel’s, but it was all very tiresome.
The girls are hard at it getting ready for the Sale and I am trying to organise the family packing for our trip to Canada. I am so longing to see my Margot. Both Jem and Madge have assured me that she is much healthier than she has ever been but it has been such a long time. My activities are beginning to worry poor old Rufus who has taken to sprawling over my feet every time I sit down! We shall miss him while we are away, of course, but I know that Dick and Molly will take the most loving care of him.
Must tell you, Carola, my ‘accidental ward’, caused a minor sensation at school the other day by mistaking cod liver oil for olive oil and having the class cook doughnuts in it! It will be a lovely story for a book one day!
Affectionately yours, Jo
Dear Rosalie, what on earth has happened? I’ve just had a postcard from Dolly telling me that Grizel has gone to New Zealand!!! For good!! This is so sudden – she was coming to stay with the Gellatlys for most of August and Dolly is more upset than I have ever known her. Her writing is usually so careful and neat and this was barely legible. Let me know what’s going on, please? Love, Meg
Author's Chapter Notes:
I've always wondered what people thought when Grizel suddenly disappeared.............