Monday, 21 May 2012

Eunice Remembered

Funny how memory works.
One minute at the ungodly hour of 7am I am trying to give a cockerel his daily antibiotic
The next I am standing like a loon with a small smile upon my face, remembering the antics of a lumpy, much loved eccentric Irish nurse I once worked with by the name of Eunice.
Eunice was a ward manager's dream of a nurse.
She was a middle aged grafter; a carthorse of a nurse who would slog her guts out for a shift and still retain her loud,innately naive and essentially good natured personality, a vital aspect of keeping morale up in a high stressed environment.
Possessing a broad North Irish accent that could cut bread, Eunice could, at times be, incredibly  insensitive ( and loudly so!), but as she often "put her foot into things" without any maliciousness  whatsoever,  her faux pas were generally viewed with some staff and patients alike.
Three "Eunice" episodes come to mind.....
Well with a handful of squirming cockerel, they came into my mind this morning.

Once we had a bit of a gangster admitted several weeks after he was the victim of a drive by shooting He possessed a little bit of a "bad boy" reputation,especially when nurse/patient relationships where involved, a fact that resulted in the more nervous of the staff giving him a wider berth. Eunice either forgot or chose to disregard this fact and I remember seeing her cheerfully whistling her way up the ward corridor with a tray of tea things when she spied him sitting up in bed in his side room all buff and bare chested.
She looked at him for a moment and yelled
"och YOU'RE a fine figure of a man!"
The patient half smiled at the comment and Eunice continued
"Have you an extra nipple there? so  you have?"
The patient looked down at his chest and frowned
"It's a bullet hole scar" he said rather testily
"Och it looks just like a nipple to me!" Eunice shouted cheerfully and went on her way!
You couldn't make it up!

Another time, I recall meeting up with an incredibly distraught family in the public cafe which was situated by the main entrance of the Spinal Unit.It was one of those unexpected meetings that had to be dealt with "then and there" and using all of my counselling skills and sensitivity I found myself on my knees holding a mother's hand as she almost hysterically vented her grief and anxieties.
Eunice came out of a nearby hospital shop weighted down with chocolate for the ward staff and bounded over.
Without a thought she pushed between me and the relative and slowly inserted a family sized MARS bar into my uniform pocket, where it poked up next to my pens and scissors! 
"Excellent for stress" she bellowed before skipping off, leaving me and the relative ever slightly bemused!

But my overwhelmingly affectionate and sweetest memory of Eunice was from Lodge Moor Hospital, which was the first rehabilitation unit I worked with her . I had finished my morning shift early and was walking up the long, long pre war main corridor for home when I heard her shout "Hold onto yer drawers!!".
In the distance I spied one of the electric porters "buggies" coming towards me rather erratically ( you know the ones you see in 1960's movies towing the catering wagons) and as it got closer I noticed that Eunice was driving it. Four or five  shopworn rehab nurses were perched precariously on the back of it, all of them waving quite gaily and as it shot past me , I heard Eunice yell
"we've all had a bad shift and couldn't be ARSED walking back from the diving room"
Open mouthed I then watched the buggy turn the wrong corner , and with a loud bang it careered into the WRVS tea bar, scattering old ladies and overturning tables as it did so.
You could run by the seat of your pants in the nhs then.....
You would be shot!
hey ho


  1. John that was a brilliant post. Made my day. Is Eunice still about? She sounds like a breath of fresh air

  2. I think she still works on the rehab ward in my old spinal unit
    I do hope she does

  3. that made me smile big time!

    My favourite story concerning a Eunice-like comment was just after my mum died.

    I'd not been up to the stables for a while in "rush hour" preferring my own company.
    One Sunday evening I was grooming my horse when a head poked round the door and one of the other horse owner's husbands smiled at me.
    "You ok, not seen you for a bit" he said in his cheery way.
    "No, I said. My mums just died."
    "Oh yeah" he replied "What got her in the end then?"

    Funnily enough after the initial shock, I've come to feel its the perfect comment- far FAR better than all those hopeless platitudes!

  4. A wonderful post to start the day with, John. x

  5. Most of the hilarious off-the-cuff remarks I've ever heard have come from the mouths of the Irish. They have a wonderful sense of humour, and a relaxed attitude to go with it.

  6. Thanks for brightening my morning. I had a good laugh at Eunice's antics and think she'd be a great central character for a new hospital comedy series - an antidote to "Casualty". Picking a phrase at random from your post, they could call it "Waving Gaily". I wonder which actor would play you?

  7. YP
    I would love Dan Stevens from DOWNTON ABBY to play me.. but realistically Christopher Biggins would get the part

  8. Thanks for once again providing my morning mirth.

  9. Into every life a little Eunice should fall. Thanks for making me smile.

  10. Just back connected to the internet John and also just back from holiday. Had to read you first - you always make me laugh. We could do with a few more Eunices around today methinkgs.

  11. Marvellous !!
    My mum's name was Eunice. She had a wicked sense of humour. I remember her coming home from shopping one Saturday morning, laughing all the way up the road from the bus stop, because she had seen two lads trap an old lady in the revolving door of the gas show rooms. The poor old dear just kept going round and round.

    Nobody calls their children Eunice these days so "your" Eunice may be one of the last.

  12. Ha! Wonderful post. Now Eunice would be one worth looking back up to see "what's up". lol

  13. I love Eunice! What great stories you tell.

  14. The world, and the NHS, needs characters like that!

  15. Eunice sounds very much like my kind of nurse!

  16. Everyone should know a Eunice. She sounds like she had a heart of gold.

  17. I've finally figured out what makes your life so novel-worthy. It's seeing it through your sense of humor. I think it would take me a long time to realize Eunice's charm if I had to work with her. (On the other hand, your intro description did immediately bring to mind one of the servers at Miss Chef's they say down here, "Oh, bless her heart!")

  18. I think if I were in hospital I could overlook any number of blundering faux pas just as long as the person concerned did a good job and looked after the patients conscientiously. That's what really matters.

  19. Isn't it wonderful to have met great characters in our life that we can remember and bring back the smiles that we had and enjoy the moments once again. These people stay with us forever.

  20. Wouldn't life be boring as h-ll if we didn't have a Eunice or two in our lives?

    Enjoyable post, John!

  21. Alison
    thank you
    to all... thanks you too!

  22. Funny funny!! Thanks for that, made me laugh this morning.

  23. I love a good laugh in the morning, thanks John

  24. Eunice's are essential, I'd say! Life would be a total bore without them. Lovely tribute John.

  25. This neighbourhood could sure do with a Eunice. She is delightful, and I love your telling of her antics.

  26. Eunice sounds like a great character. These days everything is far too serious and it makes life so much more stressful. All the rules and regulations grind people down and make them scared to show their true selves. Lily (climbing down from her soap box) xxx

  27. Fabulous woman. We have a 94 year old customer at the shop. She was a nurse in Burma and is marvelous. We love her.

  28. one of my favourite blogs ever !...

  29. Ah, she lives up the road from me now
    and has changed her name to Nelly.
    She calls in for tea on her way to the pub; says it clears her mind and that I'm not looking well.

  30. mise
    Eunice and Nelly are probably related!

  31. What wonderful memories to have. I do hope she knows how appreciated she is (for her oddities and her hard working nature).

  32. Sounds like the kind of lady I would love to work with.

  33. Great memories all. Thanks for sharing them with us, John. :o)

  34. "A carthorse of a nurse" exactly how I would like to be described. I think I'm in love with eunice

  35. hahahah most amusing anecdotes.... and....
    1) I hope you remembered to dose the cockerel or indeed only dose it once!!
    2) if I might pick out a particular piece of your story that really appealed to my inner child..... it was this.....
    "scatting old ladies"
    Now THAT would make a specialist movie if ever there was one!!

    Good old Eunace.... and now she's put smiles on a lot more faces over a much wider area than she might have thought possible!!

  36. AF
    I have many more anecdotes featuring Eunice, several I cannot publish for obvious reasons

  37. Hahahah! Great!
    My Mum was a nurse, not unlike Eunice.
    I remember her coming back from her annual Nurses' Reunion Dinners funny and tipsy and loud and telling us all the recollections they'd shared.

  38. You're right you couldn't make it up but it's all part of life's rich pattern and so much better to have a laugh. Years ago we used to hang around with a guy who drew a short comic strip whenever anything went belly up and is was always a riotous

  39. Brilliant, gorgeous, still smiling. x


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