George has been busy stripping my door, refitting my windows in the front and doing a lot of painting but there’s a huge amount yet to do. Lee Waring, my builder, has been revealing my original fireplace and chimney and renovating them using reclaimed bricks and Danny has removed the last of the concrete that was having such a disastrous effect on my old bricks and Lee will get them ready for the lime plaster that will be used to bring them back to the condition that they were in when I was built all those years ago. I’m feeling optimistic and delighted that work has re-started.
People have been stopping to talk to George as he’s been working on my front, they’re a friendly bunch here in Whitby. I overheard talk of Whitby Hospital refurbishment and George had a couple of wonderful anecdotes illustrating the pricelessness of the NHS and the caring nature of the Whitby people.
I remember telling you of the establishment of the hospitals and the caring staff that make them work. When Princess Margaret opened the Cottage Hospital she mentioned that the hospital was for the people of Whitby and all the visitors who make this beautiful town what it is.
Recently, I overheard a conversation regarding a lovely American lady called Kathy who, along with Otto from Canada, had just finished the Coast to Coast walk. That, in itself, was a credit to them as Kathy was 76 at the time of the walk and Otto a mere youngster at 66.
George and Cecilia had picked them up from Robin Hoods Bay and were intent on taking them back to York but became concerned about Kathy’s face. She’d taken a fall on the last day of the walk and was quite bruised around the eye socket and there was a deep gash below it which Kathy had treated with some Elastoplast. Things were not right and they persuaded her to allow them to take her to the Accident and Emergency unit at Whitby Hospital.
Even through the trauma of the injury, they were captivated with Whitby as they passed through and were promised a little tour together with a look at me after the visit to the hospital.
They took Kathy into the A&E Unit and were being booked in by a kindly person who needed her address together with name and nationality. Kathy, in the meantime, was opening her purse and thumbing through credit/debit cards ready to pay. She was asked to walk a very short distance to the waiting area where she was looking around the room for the ‘Accounting Office’ where she could pay. Within a couple of minutes, a delightful nurse came to her and she asked him where to pay but the response was a smile and reassurance that the important thing at the moment was to get her patched up then worry about payment.
Otto was smiling in gratitude and Kathy was perplexed at the concept of ‘being patched up’ before taking a credit card imprint whilst George is just proud and delighted with such priceless NHS service and promises himself in the future to not take it for granted.
Fifteen minutes later, Kathy re-emerged with clean wound, clean dressing and a management plan together with a quick word to her friends, “If she becomes ‘odd’ or unconscious, then take her to A&E wherever you are and explain the situation”. None of this is necessary as it turns out but the most wonderful moment was on leaving. Kathy asked once again where she should pay and the nurse said, “There was no scan or expensive equipment involved, please enjoy your stay in the Whitby and the UK, there’s no charge”. We love the NHS…
The conversation went on to talk about the ‘good old days’ when ‘proper food’ would be served from the big casserole on my fire grate and everyone was so much healthier from being exposed to germs and bacteria that, in turn, produced all the antibodies.
Hmmm, I remember before vaccinations pre-1970s when my upper rooms would be darkened with heavy curtains as youngsters with measles were sent to bed. The room was in darkness because their eyes were sensitive to light. George remembers going to school with friends who were suffering from the effects of Polio. If they were lucky they’d have leg callipers, the unlucky ones were in iron lungs hoping that they’d recover their ability to breathe unaided. There were adolescent boys walking like John Wayne if they contracted mumps and young girls with their own version of discomfort nursing swollen ovaries or meningitis for the unlucky few. I remember the day one of the youngsters came home from school and announced that his teacher thought he had German measles and would he take a few days off school. I had the lovely lady from next door not long married and excited about the rest of her life, she paled and announced, “I’m pregnant” before running out in terror. Rubella rarely leaves the victim with much in terms of side effects but it can have disastrous consequences for an unborn child rendering it with blindness, deafness, mental disorders and heart defects. There was whooping cough leading to weeks of serious discomfort or worse for the child, diphtheria with the possibility of nerve and/or heart damage. Before that Tuberculosis (TB) was rife and only became managed after the formation of NHS and the widespread use of antibiotics; however, it’s still around and certainly hasn’t been eradicated like some of the childhood diseases.
Most of the above were well on the way to being just an unpleasant memory when warnings were issued about the combined vaccination causing or contributing towards autism and many parents decided against having their children immunised not only exposing them to the dreadful diseases but destroying the firebreak that had emerged due to the vaccination programme that had been established. I heard that Dr Wakefield had been struck off for the inaccuracies and contrived ‘evidence’ in his paper and the subsequent suffering of children due to the lack of immunisation.
However, nothing compares to the horrifying diseases that were rife in the 1700s when I was being built, and Whitby, being a sea-faring town, witnessed some diseases that were quite rare and exotic. I remember the ‘Quarantine Bible’ being used well after The Plague had done it’s worst. I heard my occupants talk of a quarantined vessel being moored 3 miles off the coast and a Boarding Officer being assigned to go out and demand the Master (Captain) of the vessel to swear on the Bible that,
“…neither he, nor any member of his crew were suffering from the Plague or any other malady that would prejudice the health of the people of the town”.
The Bible was referred to as the Plague Bible as it was encased in copper and passed to the master on the end of a long pole then dragged through the salty sea on the way back to the cobble to cleanse it of any infection. The whole process was reliant on:
A) the master being a Christian
B) that he was being honest
Neither of the above was guaranteed as the boat would be full of cargo and quite often perishable so the necessity to unload may have influenced the process.
I’ve seen huge change during my 250 year lifetime and heard many stories of tragedy and triumph around my dinner table but the tales of Kathy and Otto. Two lovely people from the New World being treated so well at Whitby Hospital warms my soul.
Next up is my dormer and rear windows and more restoration on my walls.
With luck and a fair wind, all of the loving restorations should see me good for another 250 years!
With love from The Little Yellow Cottage…x
Feel free to share or comment – I love comments