We are so excited to speak to each other, We haven’t spoken since we left the sixth form of Ashby Grammar School, which was a comprehensive school with delusions of grandeur, 28 years ago!
We walked past each other in ‘Boots, the chemist,’ in 2011 but she didn’t stop me because she had expected my hair to be long (I had just had it all cut off) and my friend radar wasn’t working!
She sounds exactly the same. We talk immediately about the good, the bad and the indifferent sides of Facebook. I tell her that when I had the idea to do this blog I googled ‘phoning Facebook friends’ and Google said ‘What? Annabel, you’re completely mad!’
I remember her telling me she was going into nursing all those years ago. One of our other friends was doing it and she thought ‘I might like doing that.’ She is still doing it and is clearly very good at it. She works at Ashby Hospital, right opposite the school as a district nurse. Why do I keep imagining her in one of those 1950’s nursing uniforms with cape and an elegant selection of hats? Maybe the delusions of grandeur made it over the road in my mind.
I am trying to get a handle on ‘manifrestation’ and ‘the universe’ having a hand to play in the timing in some of my blog posts. Out of 365 friends I had selected her this Tuesday evening and while we were talking, she said that there was a meeting going on to decide the fate of Ashby Hospital. My heart sank. My dad, (there he is again, he won’t go away, ‘Dad, get some sleep’) had campaigned tirelessly to keep the hospital open in the nineties but he knew that this day would one day come. It has all come down to funding. This morning I read that it is to definitely close.
Dad would be irate. He would say that the decision to close doesn’t take into account the community feel of a place or the expertise of the staff or the trust that people hold in them; that can never be replaced and he thought it crucial to patient recovery. Carolyn’s chatty voice would make anyone feel better, for goodness sake. My mum pushed me out in that building in the presence of my Godfather Peter Corkey (don’t worry, he was a doctor), my Dad and Sister Mould (don’t ask) with, I imagine, very little pain relief. The next day my Mum had asked for an omelette and the nursing assistant brought her fish cutlery to eat the omelette with.
I should have told Carolyn, so I’ll tell her now, about the night when there was a big march to save the hospital and it ended up in a completely packed Ashby Town Hall. I went next door to The White Hart with my friends as the hall was crammed full. Someone then came into the pub laughing and told us that a man had stood on a table to address the crowd and slowly, gently the table had fallen over and the man fell into about fifty pairs of arms, then he got up onto another table and carried on! I had a feeling I would know that man they were talking about, very well. It is such a shame that no one is able to catch this special place as it falls.
We talk about old friends and what they are up to, some are much nicer, some have stayed the same and some, like Carolyn haven’t changed at all and didn’t need to. She told me she was always shy at school but I said I remembered her more as thoughtful, kind and easygoing. She is pleased to say that her children are the same. I tell her that she was always so reasonable, the voice of common sense in our mad lives.
She admits to being the glass half full person that I always knew she was. She is going to have to maintain that mindset to keep cheerful as she is sent to work in another hospital, a long way from the Grammar School that wasn’t, and this fabulously successful author’s birthplace.
The bright young things of the Grammar School Sixth Form