My mum Rene (Alice Irene Flitney née Harding) died in 1999. When my brother, sister and I went through her things we found an envelope full of old newspaper clippings and other bits and pieces. We looked through the papers and put the envelope away, but those yellowing pieces of paper keep whispering of half-forgotten times and places. Places like Butlers Cross, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, West Wycombe, Little Kimble, Wendover, Ellesborough, Southcourt and Princes Risborough.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Guest Post – My Sister Remembers – Part Six

As previously mentioned (here) apple picking season was the highlight of the year at Well Manor Farm, but cricket season came a close second.  Not that I liked cricket, but it was a good place to meet boys, especially when the lads from Lord Wandsworth College were playing. I met a lovely looking lad called Dai at one of the matches. We really liked each other, but as soon as his parents heard we were “walking out together" it came to a very abrupt halt with a letter from him telling me I was unsuitable.  Considering we had only known each other for about a month and had not even held hands, I felt that was a bit harsh!

Another of my school friends had a brother, Colin. He and I started “courting” and it wasn't long before he was visiting me at home once or twice a week. Colin loved playing cards and as this was my mum and dad's favourite leisure pursuit they all got on very well. He would arrive, play cards, eat supper and go home – just what a girl needed. Mum and Dad thought he was the bee's knees and within a very short time were thinking of getting us married off. I felt sure life must have more to offer and tried to let him down gently, but he would not go away. Violet (my friend from next door) and I spent some time plotting about how we could get rid of him. When he next arrived, we ambushed him (I am not proud of what happened next) and covered him in lipstick – all over his face and all over his clean white shirt. The poor lad was really upset about having to go home in that state, but it put an end to his visits. Mum and dad were curious to know what had happened so I told them he was fed up with playing cards!

Sue and Colin

Luckily, Colin's sister remained friends with me, and I started to go to the youth club in Long Sutton and to the Old-Time dance club with her, and her friend Margaret. Margaret’s boyfriend brought another lad with him one week. His name was Robin (known as Bob) Wood. Bob was six years older than me and had just come out of The Fleet Air Arm and was very handsome.    I really liked him, but I think he just saw me as a young girl. One night while we were at the dance club I tried to impress him with my flirtatious chat, but he sternly told me to “Shush” as he was trying to listen to the dance teacher – very firmly put in my place! Margaret and friends asked me to go to the Easter Dance with them in 1958, a couple of months before my sixteenth birthday, it was being held at the Drill Hall in Alton (the hall is no loner there). I cycled to Long Sutton, left my bicycle at my friend's house and carried on to Alton with them in Margaret's boyfriends car.  Bob was there when we arrived with a very smart young lady. I wore my mum’s one and only evening dress, which was years old but fitted me like a dream. It was short, black with a little stiff narrow belt and shot through with gold lurex. Halfway through the evening while on the way back to my chair I slipped and in an effort to save myself grabbed the back of  Bob's  lady friends chair, which resulted in her ending up on the floor, she was not amused, in fact, she was furious. Maybe it was just the nudge Bob needed because he asked me to dance and by the end of the evening we were getting on famously. Margaret's boyfriend offered me a lift home, so it was decided I would leave my bike at Long Sutton and collect it the next day.  In those days the rules were that I had to be in by 9pm, but on this occasion I had permission to be home at 10pm, but it was nearer eleven when we arrived. Dad heard the car pull up saw men in it and came out with his shotgun!!! (I laughed at this bit Sue – I can remember many occasions when dad greeted my boyfriends with a shotgun – it certainly sorted the men from the boys!)

Sue c1957

Dad had calmed down by the next morning and suggested I ask Bob home to tea on the Sunday. He was quite brave and came to tea, (best ham sandwiches and trifle as I remember). I then started going to East Worldham some Sundays to have tea with his family. His Dad, Jack Wood, had been the local blacksmith but was retired due to ill health. His mum, Hartie, worked part-time at the village school, she belonged to the Women’s Institute and was a staunch member of the congregation at St. Mary’s Church. It wasn’t long before Bob and I were meeting up each weekend and on Wednesday evenings. We spent many summer evenings just walking and talking. Later, Bob bought a motorbike, and we started going further from home. We often went into Basingstoke to the pictures and then to a café for poached eggs on toast and coffee, which I hated but as everyone else was drinking it I thought I was very grown up doing the same. At weekends in the summer we would go to Southsea or Hayling Island and delight in passing the queues of cars waiting to cross the bridge on to the Island. We also visited Bobs Aunt Olive and Uncle Bill in Fareham and loved listening to all Uncle Bill’s war stories. We would have a drink in the local pub, and Aunt Olive always served up a lovely old-fashioned tea when we got back. It was a nice gentle courtship with very few problems, and it was only on the odd occasion I would catch myself thinking “am I doing the right thing?”

Sue, Bob and Peggy c1958

I left school as soon as I could and got a job as an auxiliary nurse at Wimble Hill Hospital, Farnham. I would cycle off early in the mornings and head towards Farnham, in the spring the blossom was lovely and the views from the top road are well worth seeing. I loved the work, although it was exhausting and often quite upsetting. The patients all had what we now call senile dementia or Alzheimer's, but in those days it was all classed as “mental illness.”

Wimble Hill Hospital (Sue in centre)

The hospital had a large day room and bathrooms downstairs with two wards upstairs. The patients used to spend all day sitting in the day room with very little to do and very few visitors. One day I decided to play a tune on the old piano that sat in the corner and within minutes most of the patients were singing along. Some of the other nurses were annoyed, but the Sister was pleased and from then on it became a regular part of the day. Life was not easy for patients or staff in those days. I spent many hours helping to lift patients into the bath and into bed. One of the warnings we were given was that we must never enter the night dormitory on our own. But one evening I heard a patient crying and thought I would slip up and make sure she was all right – big mistake. I looked through the glass at the top of the door and as everyone seemed to be in bed I let myself in. Next minute a little old lady had a pair of stockings tight around my neck trying to strangle me, it was a good job I was young and strong and could push her away. I got into all sorts of bother over it and was given the job of cleaning patient denture's night and morning for weeks! I must have been good at my job though because  the Sister on my ward wanted me to do my nurse's training in Basingstoke, but  by now things were pretty serious with Bob and there was no way I was going to move into nurse's accommodation and risk seeing less of him…

 Sue (front row centre) and colleagues Wimble Hill hospital

Memories of Susan Poulter nee Flitney; Sue is my older sister (although she looks younger!)
Previous instalments herehereherehere and here


  1. Morning Sue and Barbara,
    My goodness how revealing. Please, what happened next? You were far more confident with the opposite sex than I ever was. I was in my twenties before I met a girl I felt at ease with and I shall never forget our first kiss.
    Exciting reading Sue and you so attractive....

    1. Good evening John, I’m excited about the next bit too, wish I could remember more about my sister’s life. Thanks for calling in, Barbara.


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara x

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