Tomorrow is another day.

IMG_1970.JPG

The bubbly blond with the big heart came rushing into the hospital, crashing through the doors in her haste not to be late again!

‘Please don’t let there be another ticking off from Matron!’ she thought.

The diminutive nurse took the lift and made her way up to Neurosurgery, where she walked briskly across to the nurse’s station. Her stomach felt less than secure after a night on the tiles and she hoped she’d be able to keep its contents from leaving her. Not a good image to have a nurse vomiting all over their bed.

‘Ugh! Never, never again!’ She told herself for the umpteenth time.

She passed Mrs. Bennett’s bed and waved a hand in her direction.

‘You look as if you should be in my bed my dear – another heavy night was it!’

Cathy put a hand on her stomach and pulled a face displaying to the lady she was right. ‘Oh god, even the patients know about my indulgent life-style! I must put my social life on hold for a bit!’ she chided herslf.

‘NURSE JACKSON!’

The deep thunderous voice of Matron echoed around the ward! Cathy took a deep breath. Oh well, here goes!

‘Nurse Jackson! Thank you for eventually dragging yourself into work, particularly as you’re not feeling up to the mark I see!’

‘I’m sorry I’m late Matron’ she stammered.

Matron’s beady eyes scanned Cathy Jackson.

‘Maybe you should first visit the Ladies Room and tidy yourself up. Apply a little blusher; it will make you look more like a nurse and less like a patient. When you’ve done that perhaps you will do me the honour of visiting me in my office.’

Matron actually rather liked Nurse Jackson. She reminded her of herself many years ago, before the NHS had knocked all the stuffing out of her. Nurses, she felt, needed to be spirited as well as caring to successfully deal with patients and all the problems that their treatment put before them. However she wasn’t going to tell Nurse Jackson that!

In the corridor outside the Ladies Room Cathy bumped into Doctor Green – or Mike as she knew him outside the hospital grounds. Her heart missed a beat – she’d give him bed room any time!

‘Good morning Nurse Jackson – in a hurry?’

‘Yes, late again I’m afraid Doctor Green. I’ve just been sent to tidy myself up before going to get a dressing down from Matron.’

‘You need to learn to pace yourself Nurse,’ he laughed, as she hurriedly disappeared into the washroom.

She looked at herself in the mirror. Ugh! Matron was right, she did look a sight. She certainly wouldn’t be whispering sweet nothings into Doctor Green’s ear looking like this!

Having spruced herself up she went to knock on Matron’s door to hear her fate – and after being well and truly disciplined she was given her duties for the day. She went across to bed 4 – Mrs Brenda Milburn – who was looking pale and worried as she fixed her eyes on the lights in the ceiling, her mind a million miles away.

‘How are you feeling today Brenda?’ she asked.

Brenda looked across at Cathy, seemingly confused as she came back down to earth, leaving her far away thoughts on the ceiling.

‘You’re having your Op tomorrow, aren’t you? Is anything worrying you?’

Mrs M nodded.

‘Can you advise me, my dear?Should something happen during the operation I don’t wish to be resuscitated.  Is there a form I need to sign for that?’

‘Nothing will go wrong!’ assured Cathy.

‘But if it does, I want to be prepared.’

‘I’ll get someone to come across and explain everything to you – but I’m sure you’re worrying unnecessarily! What’s made you feel like this?’

‘I’ve always been very independent, my dear. I don’t want to spend the days I have left having to be looked after. I would rather take the wonderful life I’ve had and leave it at that. I don’t want to be a burden to my family. I’ve had a good life and I want them to have the same – I don’t intend being the one to spoil it for them.’

Cathy squeezed Mrs. M’s hand.

‘I’m quite sure you’d never do that! From what I’ve seen they love you very much!’

‘That’s exactly why I need to do this. They do love me and would want to do all they could for me. I want to spare them that. If I don’t sign that form – and if it did happen that the children were put in the position of having to pull the plug – that would be unbearable for them! Can you imagine their guilt? Better it’s me than one of them.’

‘I’ll send someone to talk to you.’

Cathy was troubled. In a way she could sympathise with her patient. She’d seen, only too often, worn out carers trying to do their best for their parents.

Mike had just come onto the ward and she told him of Mrs. Milburn’s worries.

‘She wants to sign a DNR Mike. Can you speak to her? I didn’t know how to advise her.’

Mike walked across to Mrs M and Cathy watched as she once again explained what she wanted. He sat by her bed and talked to her, answering the questions she posed to him. Eventually he rose and came back to speak to Cathy.

‘Give her a minute or two and then go across and see if she took it all in – see if she’s understood what I told her. She’s a frightened lady trying to hide her emotions. Just give her time to absorb what I said.’

Cathy nodded.

‘Does she still want to sign the DNR form?’

‘Yes. She seems determined. Let’s hope her operation goes well and we don’t have to abide by it.’

At the end of a long shift Cathy went home to her little flat. She couldn’t get Mrs M off her mind. This was new to her. Most patients were only too happy to know the doctors would do everything they could to save them! She sat thinking. Would she also want to make this decision – could she be unselfish enough to ask for it? How will Mrs. M’s children feel when they know her wishes? Cathy knew she would always want be there for her mom – but will her mom always want her to be?

And WHY! Why did the poor lady have to make this decision now? Why couldn’t she just sign a form saying she wants out if or when her quality of life becomes too hard to accept? Why couldn’t they just give her a lethal injection then, if her suffering became too much for her? Why had she been driven to make this choice before anyone knew the outcome of her operation? Sometimes a heart can stop beating during an operation but often it resolves itself within a few days. The law had taken this option away from her. How could it possibly allow people to choose to end their life via a DNR but not to choose to stop the medication they need to survive when life becomes intolerable! As long as the patient was of sound mind and it was their decision, what was the difference?

When she arrived at the hospital next morning Mrs. Milburn had already been taken up to theatre and hadn’t returned by the time Cathy had finished her shift.

When she saw Mike later in the bar, he was laughing and joking, obviously the life and soul of the little group that stood about him. He saw her watching him and sent across one of his dazzling smiles. She wanted to go and ask him how things had gone with Mrs. M’s op but knew better than to ‘talk work’ with a group of medics out enjoying themselves. She’d wait until tomorrow.

She decided she didn’t want any more to drink and made her excuses to leave her group of friends. Somehow she didn’t feel like socialising tonight. As she got to the door an arm reached across her shoulder and pushed it open for her. She looked up surprised to see Mike standing behind her.

‘Had enough already?’ he asked cheerily.

‘Yes, not in the mood tonight. I’ll see you tomorrow.’

To her surprise he followed her outside.

‘She didn’t make it Cath. I had to stand back and let her go.’

They stood in the drizzling rain, lit by a pool of street light.

‘I’m sorry Mike,’ she whispered.

‘It happens! We have to pick ourselves up. We can’t dwell on it. As they say, ‘tomorrow is another day.’

She nodded, understanding now that his life and soul mood at the bar was there to protect him, to protect him from getting too close – from feeling too much.

‘Do you fancy going for a bite to eat, I’m starving,’ he said jovially, apparently back to his old bon homme self.

‘That would be great!’ she replied.

Perhaps she would be hearing those sweet nothings after all!

*****

Advertisements

FIRST DATE

IMG_0030

(A poem about our first boat trip together)

My first boat trip

Will I like it?

Never sailed before in my life!

Going through locks must be hard work

Will it be worth the strife?

The sun is shining

It could be good

The trees creating shade.

I think I may enjoy this hobby –

Oh heck! It’s going to rain!

Moor the boat!

Pull up the canopy!

This isn’t a good start!

Rain now dripping from my nose

I doubt I look the part!

Oh well, wet now!

I bet he’s changed his mind.

Make up gone and hairs a mess –

Reckon this trip could be our last time!

Now a lock – god this is hard –

Perhaps he’ll come and help –

Why is he sitting in the dry

While I’m here flogging myself!

Now the lock gates are stuck fast,

What am I going to do?

The gates won’t open fully –

Oh! Maybe he’ll get through!

Oh shit he’s stuck

The boat’s held fast

By gates on either side

Looks like we won’t get too far –

Bet that will hurt his pride!

 

(We went on to marry the following year and had many more boat trips together – all resulting in some kind of adventure!)

The Baby Giver: A short play.

IMG_1947

THE BABY GIVER: A romantic comedy

SCENE – Amanda’s flat.

 (Amanda wearing faded jeans and an equally faded baggy top is lounging on the sofa in her ground-floor flat. Sitting next to her is her  friend, Sukie, who by contrast is colourfully dressed in an Aztec beaded smock, her long flowing hair encircled by a braid , skin-tight leggings and knee high black boots, her image completed by large round ‘shades’. There’s an empty bottle of wine on the table in front of them.)

Amanda:       

I’m thirty four Sukie! My clock is ticking.

Sukie:

            Well, you’ll never find a man if you sit in here every night. You need                                  to get out there and flaunt yourself!

Amanda:

But I don’t want to flaunt myself – and I don’t want a man Suke! I never wanted a man! Men are trouble and I’ve been hurt too many times by them.

Sukie:

(Laughing) Well, I’m sorry to tell you that if you want a baby you need to find yourself a man first!

Amanda:

Why?  (Sukie continues to laugh at her friend) NO! Don’t laugh at me! Just tell me why I can’t have a baby without having to take on all the rubbish that comes with a man. I’m not cut out to be the stereotypical little woman – and I can do without all that sex too! All I want is the end result – a baby!

Sukie:

Well sorry, but I’m afraid you can’t have one without the other.

Amanda:

Why not?

Sukie:

What are you suggesting – putting an advert in the local rag? ‘Fertile man wanted for one night stand?’ (Sukie throws her legs across her friend’s lap and falls back into the sofa, laughing uproariously – then she stops abruptly and sits up.) Hang on, wait a minute. You know that’s not such a daft idea!

Amanda:

Why am I stuck with a batty friend like you? Oh, to hell with it, let’s open another bottle. (Amanda gets up and crosses to the cupboard to fetch another bottle of wine)

Sukie:

It’s not that batty Mand! Think about it. We could put an ‘Ad’ online …. (Sukie, now excited, begins to mull her idea over) ….. We’d need to fix a few rules first and it would have to be worded right ……

Amanda:

(Laughing) No one would apply!

Sukie:

They would if we offer a cash incentive, they’ll come rolling in! We could ask for photos and vet them first …… just to make sure they look presentable …… and you wouldn’t need to see them apart from ‘ON THE DAY! I could do all the vetting! (She is now really excited) Come on Mand! It’s a brilliant idea! Let’s get the Ad written and we can email it off tonight! Now, what kind of man do you see as the perfect father for your child?

Amanda:

(Laughing as she tops up their wine glasses) You really are mad Suke ….  but if I was looking I’d say … definitely no bald heads – or at least they must have the capacity to grow hair …

Sukie:

(Typing into her mobile phone) N-o b-a-l-d h-e-a-d s. No bald heads!

Amanda:

… and no beards. The thought of all that dirty, rough hair rubbing across my babies face would be an absolute no-no!

Sukie:

(Typing) No …  beards.

Amanda:

 … and no smokers, I couldn’t stand the smell – not even for ten minutes … (Looking into her wine glass) the odd drinks ok – but only within reason … and most important, I wouldn’t want beer bellies!

Sukie:

(Typing) No beer bellies! (Looking at the list she has written) This is great – I’ll be Auntie Sukie before you know it!

Amanda:

Hold on, I’m not saying I’m going to agree? After all it’s me who’s going to have to ‘perform’!

Sukie:

Close your eyes and think of England! It would be all over in a flash. We won’t be asking for a marathon session – just a quick wham-bam, pay him and you’ll never see him again! And just think – the end result will be a baby! It might be worth getting a written agreement though to defer all paternity rights before you begin. Come on, let’s do it! Let’s get the advert done!

*****

SCENE – The lift outside Amanda’s office.

(The following morning – Amanda tumbles out of the lift, bumping into John Russell, a colleague)

John:

Woops-a-daisy.

Amanda:

Sorry John. I had a bad night – too much wine – wasn’t looking where I was going – sorry! (He smiles and walks on) What does he think he looks like? Who wears a Fair Isle tank top in this day and age? (She looks at her mobile phone) Nothing from Sukie yet – with luck no one will have seen the advert. Why the hell did I let her talk me into doing it? That’s what happens after sharing two bottles of wine I suppose. (Phone rings making her jump) Oh god, it’s Sukie! Hi Suke…………. What none? Good! How do you feel? I’ve had the most awful morning. First I bumped into a long haired youth sending the entire content of my handbag all across the platform – then an old lady congratulated me when she handed me back the Mother and Baby magazine I’d dropped ……….. What? ………..Oh I’d bought it to read on the train. I thought I’d better get myself up to date with parenting skills in case there were any replies………. Tonight? …….OK……..See you! Bye!

******

SCENE – Amanda’s flat

(Sukie comes bounding in full of energy)

Sukie:

We’ve got four replies!

Amanda:

WHAT! \FOUR? REALLY? What are they like?

Sukie:

Give me a chance, I haven’t had time to look properly yet!

Amanda:

Let me see!

Sukie:

No! We decided you don’t see them till ‘the day’! Remember the rules!

Amanda:

Oh come on Suke. You won’t believe the day I’ve had! I had to stand up all the way home on the train while some slick suited business type sat comfortably reading his newspaper. I wondered if he’d have been quite so unchivalrous if I’d been heavily pregnant! So go on – just a few hints won’t hurt. Age – Job – Hair? –  No baldies please Suke! You did remember to say that, didn’t you?

Sukie:

You won’t be looking at his hair Mand! It’s not his hair we’re worried about.

Amanda:

I know that – but it’s just my luck the child will take on all his worst qualities!

******

SCENE Sukie’s flat.

  Sukie has printed off the potential baby giver photographs which she now has spread out on the table in front of her.)

Sukie:

(Talking to herself) Right, let’s have a look at Man A. (she frowns) mmm ….. He looks a bit weedy – and he wears specs……. mmm …. Perhaps a bit intense …. But that could mean he’s reliable….not very fashion conscious though – but then neither is Mandy!

OK, now for Man B. (She looks at photo and frowns) Oh dear, he’s a bit rough round the edges! He’s definitely in it for the money…… Ah, he’s holding a guitar, that’s promising! (She turns up her nose and shakes her head) No, he’s definitely out. I can almost smell him from here. Mandy would never forgive me! (She gives a deep sigh) Let’s hope Man C is a bit better. Mm…..  James Bond type…..wearing a suit and tie ……. certainly looks more intelligent! This could be the one! …..But perhaps James Bond might be too flighty for Mandy; she is a home lover after all. That leaves Man D. (Nods slowly as she takes him in) Well he looks the most fun loving of the four – and cool with it. His long hair is certainly a plus ….. Well it is for me but would it be for Mandy? Well I know which one I’d choose – but sadly he’s not for me and Mandy’s never been known to have the best taste in men. Oh I don’t know! None of them look right ….. But it’s not as if she has to fall for him, she’s only seeing him once. As long as he’s presentable and has no obvious defects to pass on to the baby, any of them would do.

******

SCENE – Amanda’s flat

 (Sukie is now dressed in green leggings, high boots, a cropped purple tee and a blue leather cap on her head – while Amanda wears a dressing gown.)

Amanda:

Now you will stay in the kitchen all the time won’t you and if you hear me yell come in as fast as you can.

Sukie:

Yes, we’ve been over this a thousand times Mand, stop worrying!

Amanda:

I really can’t think why I let you organise this.

Sukie:

Because you have no other friends capable of doing it, that’s why. Who else but me cares about your welfare? (Smiles) And I want to be an auntie as well.

(The doorbell rings. They both jump up. Sukie gives a thumb’s up followed by a high five which Amanda reluctantly returns. Sukie goes towards the door, stops, pulls down her tee shirt and exits to open the door. Amanda looks terrified)

Amanda:

(Whispering to herself over and over) Baby, baby, I’m doing this for a baby. (Voices heard off) Oh, he’s coming in! I can hear his footsteps on the linoleum! (There is a tap on the door and the tension builds as the door begins to slowly open – until) JOHN RUSSELL! What the hell are you doing here? (John Russell enters wearing a Fair Isle jumper – they both stand open-mouthed, staring at each other for a few second – then Amanda bursts into tears and rushes out of the room shouting) SUKIE HOW COULD YOU!

(We hear the front door slam as she runs out of the flat into the night.)

******

SCENE – Sukie’s flat – A year later.

( Sukie, is sitting cradling a baby. She is wearing a white trouser suit)

Sukie:

So that’s how you came into the world little one. You see I kept the photo of the long haired fellow and emailed him back. I told him that, although he hadn’t been the successful candidate, there was a chance he could help another maiden in distress! At least I’d summed him up correctly; he was certainly a guy up for a laugh! Then you came along my precious.

(The doorbell rings)

Ah, at last! (She shouts) Come on up, the door is open! (Turns her attention back to the baby) Now you will be a good girl today, won’t you? It’s a very special occasion because it’s not only your mummy and daddy that are getting married today! You see after all the who-ha Auntie Amanda found out she did rather like Uncle John after all. I think your mummy might have a gift for this matchmaking business.

(Amanda looking flustered, bustles into the room dressed as Sukie, in an identical white trouser suit)

Amanda:

Sorry we’re late Suke. We were just about to leave the flat when madam here decided to fill her nappy and I had to go back and change all her clothes. Are you ready? The boys are waiting downstairs. Come on. Looks like it’s going to be a nice day!

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

The Seven Stages of Woman

IMG_1946

I have told this story before – but I thought it may be fun to try and ‘Shakespearise’ it by using iambic pentameter, rhyming couplets – plus a little imagination!

‘Mewling and Puking’

Young Woman:  (enters)

How now old woman, why look you so sad?

Old Woman:  (sitting daydreaming)

Come hither my friend. You make my heart glad!

A far distant memory I recall,

From bygone days, when I was small.

Peering through dim eyes so far back in time

I see my mother with her hand in mine.

Young Woman: (laughing)

Forsooth for you ‘twas some time ago!

I’m surprised you still find the memory so!

Old Woman: (glares at young woman but ignores comment)

I see Ma with her bike pushing me to school

And me trying desperately to stay cool.

I remember the fear I felt inside,

But refused to cry out because of pride.

Young Woman:  (cheerily)

Your mind tosses merrily in the wind   (rhymes with find)

Keep digging deeper to see what you find!

How say you now? What more can you see?

So please you to spend this hour merrily!

Old Woman:  (thinking)

I spy a rotund man, who’s grumpy and old,

Clad in jumper of yellow, with countenance cold.

His grey hair ‘tis sparse, his red face ‘tis grim,

Fear hits my belly as my eyes fall upon him!

I peep from my hiding place on the stair,

Perchance he won’t see me sitting there!

Transported back to an age long ago

I still feel the shame and blush that ‘tis so.

Young Woman:  (excited)

Why comes he a’ knocking at your door?

What brings on your fear? Oh pray tell me more!

What did this gentleman to cause your plight?

My heart is beating with all of its might!’

Old Woman:

I was but small and to show I was brave

I took on a challenge to honour my name!

Young Woman:

What was this challenge? Oh, tell me I pray!

Old Woman:

‘Twas to knock on his door – and to then run away!

Young Woman:

How many knocks did they charge you to do?

Old Woman:

I cannot recall but ‘twere quite a few!

MAN: (enters shouting)

‘Bring that treacherous child at once to me!’

Old Woman:  (in fear)

His voice rang out loud, showing no mercy!

So draggéd was I up to the front door

My cries ringing out and fear at my core!

MAN

 ‘This wench will be punishéd,’ he cried,

‘Cut off her hands and gouge out her eyes!

Never again my door will she knock!

Away with her now, put her head on the block!

She deserves to be punishéd today!’

He turned in glee, ‘Do it quickly I pray!’

MOTHER:  (pleading)

‘Alack and alas don’t treat her so bad.’

Old Woman:

Ma’s eyes brimming over – her face so sad.

She raised her hand to hit me – but instead

Clouted the little man about his head!

He fell to the ground cursing Ma for her sin,

While she battered his head with a rolling pin!

Mother:  (angrily)

‘How dare you to harm my defenceless child!

Away with you now or you’ll be defiled!

‘Twas a harmless prank played out with mirth!

Take your sour temper home, along with your girth!’

Old Woman:

He rose to his feet, rubbing his backside,

Leaving foul words unspoken – along with his pride!

She then turned her wild eyes upon me –

I knew at that moment ’twas time to flee!

‘Forgive me Mother,’ I cried, ‘for my sin!’

‘Twas then I experienced the rolling pin!

*****

Guardian of the Forest

One morning as I was walking my dogs I saw a shape in the bark of a tree.

IMG_1165 (Edited)

Silent, suspicious, standing sentinel,

Watchful, waiting, vision keen.

Woodland guardian,

Night time gate-keeper,

Protector of wild life,

Unmoving, unseen.

Eyes alert, darting, demonic.

His statue-like form says ‘trespasser beware!’

Entry here won’t go unnoted,

Every footstep will be noticed.

Only fools will take their chances,

As perched up high amongst the branches

The guardian of the forest sits

Frozen by time.

*****

 

My Silent Noisy World

IMG_1900

I awake each day to a tinnitus drone

Put in my aids – then sound explodes!

I hear birdsong, the joy of children laughing,

Car engines, music and dogs that are barking.

My head’s alive with noise – but from where?

I’m not sure of the direction but I don’t care!

Checkout girls in shops think me crazy!

Waiters hover but their questions are too hazy.

‘Supply all the information, so questions they won’t need!’

This is what they tell us– but others never heed!

‘What size of glass – and would you like water?

How would you like it cooked?’

When you don’t reply they look so hurt

And give you a quizzical look.

People speak with heads turned away –

Well, you may ask, why shouldn’t they?

Or their hand hides their mouth so their lips I can’t read!

No, I’m not being rude – I just need to see!

But my real hate above all other – is BEARDS!

 

Beards should be banned or carry a warning to say –

IF YOU ARE DEAF – PLEASE KEEP AWAY!’

Gatherings I used to love are now viewed with dread.

Rooms full of chanting people – the sound amplified in my head.

When I don’t hear, people SHOUT

Making distortion more pronounced!

Then such welcome silence when I am home   –

But all I hear is the tinnitus drone!

*****

 

The Machine

     STEAMPUNK   – Horror

IMG_1891                

 If you don’t like horror I would give this one a miss!

 Professor Shakeshaft gradually stood up unwinding his stiff muscles. He turned away from the operating table and dropped the bullet into the enamel kidney dish that his assistant held out in front of him. He then looked down at the patient lying before him.

‘That’s all I can do John,’ he said to his assistant, ‘the other bullet is lodged too deep for me to get at. If I try to remove it I could kill him.’

‘What about the machine Professor, wouldn’t that be worth a try?’

‘No John, it’s not ready. There are several adjustments that need to be made before it can be used on a patient.’

‘He’ll die anyway if you don’t use it Sir. Surely it’s worth the risk!’

‘No John, I dare not. I daren’t!’

‘But he’ll die Sir if you don’t remove the other bullet! You can’t get to it – but the machine might! That must be worth a try Sir!’

Professor Shakeshaft looked across at his assistant’s eager face, so full of youth and enthusiasm. Perhaps he was right. Perhaps it was the only way – but if it went wrong the consequences would be enormous! He scratched his head and looked once more at the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury lying on the operating table. If the machine worked he may not only save the Prime Minister’s life but he may also acquire funding for his experimental research work. Perhaps after all the young John was right!

He looked back into the young man’s anxious eyes and spoke quietly.

‘You are right John! Go and fetch the machine!’

Without any hesitation John hurried out of the room, while the professor, hands clasped, muttered a silent prayer and waited.  John returned pushing a large, ungainly object that squeaked and grunted its way across the floor of the operating theatre, until it reached the Professor’s side.

The Professor leaned his tall, gaunt body across the operating table. The flickering gaslight reflected in his small, round, rimless spectacles as he took hold of the machine’s telescopic end. His gnarled fingers positioned the implement into the open wound that had been created by the removal of the first bullet. He then strapped the contraption across the Prime Minister’s chest.

‘Switch it on John,’ he said in a soft, deep voice as he straightened his back and moved away from the bed.

John moved behind the machine and turned a dial, bringing the machine to life. It coughed and spluttered and the two men watched as blood, bone and gristle were sucked inside the machine, before running along a clear glass tube and then being deposited into a bucket by the side of the bed.

They waited for a few moments longer, until the Professor suddenly shouted, ‘It’s not going to work John! I dare not leave it on any longer – it will suck out his organs if I do! Quickly, switch it off!’

John moved swiftly across to switch off the machine – but just as he was about to do so they both heard a clang, as the metal bullet that had been sucked along the glass tube fell out hitting the side of the bucket.

*****

It had been four months since Professor Shakeshaft and John Baker had performed the lifesaving operation on Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury. They stood there now, in his office at 10 Downing Street, as he pinned a medal onto each of their jackets. They felt proud and delighted that the rotund, balding and bearded figure before them was looking so well, only because of their actions.

The P.M, wearing a dark frock coat with matching waste coat, along with light grey pin striped trousers, shook them both by the hand. He then took his pocket watch out of his waste coat pocket to check the time before asking them both to take the seats set out in front of his desk. He then put on the spectacles that were hanging from a chain around his neck and peered across at them.

‘I cannot tell you gentlemen how grateful I am! I understand such an operation has never been carried out before! Pray, tell me about it Professor, please explain to me the process that saved my life. They tell me a new machine was used, one that has never been used before. Is that correct?’

The Professor explained the operation and described how he had used the machine to extract the bullet lodged close to the Prime Minister’s heart. The P.M. listened attentively and after the Professor had finished speaking he rubbed his bearded chin.

‘Remarkable! I was indeed fortunate to be in the hands of such a talented physician.’ He coughed to clear his throat before continuing.  ‘I have heard it rumoured that the machine could have other possible uses. If it could suck out a bullet lodged in such a dangerous and difficult place, then surely it could be used to suck out other foreign bodies.’ He then sat forward in his chair before lowering his voice and continuing.

‘I am going to be straight with you gentlemen – and, of course, whatever I say to you while you are in this room must never be repeated! You are sworn to secrecy. I have no need to tell you the consequences if you were to break your silence!’

The two men listened, intrigued to hear what the great man had to tell them – and as they did, fear began to grip them.

‘As you know I am keen to promote the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act, enabling us for the first time to intervene between parent and child. I am also aware, while so many unwanted children are being brought into our world, cruelty will never be wiped out. Our workhouses are becoming overloaded. Each day more and more young, fallen women are being taken into them. We look after them, offering them food and work, until their bastard children are born. The girl children then grow up and produce more illegitimate children of their own and so the whole cycle begins again! It cannot be allowed to go on! It is an affront to morality! Our country cannot afford to keep these wayward women!’

‘I understand your problem Prime Minister but I don’t quite see how we can help.’

‘Ah, but you can, Professor! That machine of yours – the one that sucked the bullet out of my body – could be used to suck out these unwanted embryos! Those that are not needed could be discarded – but others could be used for research! Imagine it Professor, you would be in charge of some of the greatest experimental medicine ever done in this country! We, the United Kingdom, could be the forerunner of medical research!’

The P.Ms eyes were wild with excitement as he set out his vision for the future.

‘I’m not sure Prime Minister – it does sound a little unethical.’

‘Unethical be damned! Think of the money we will be saving with no unwanted mouths to feed! Our workhouse bills would be cut by half!’

‘I don’t know Sir.’

‘This is not a choice you have to make Professor. It has already been decided. You will be given all the funds you need to make any adjustments to your machine. You will work for your country – and you will remember that your work is top secret. This must not become public knowledge. A laboratory will be set up for you with the most advanced medical equipment. As a doctor you must realise it will offer you an enormous opportunity to help mankind!’

As the Professor and John left 10 Downing Street they didn’t know whether to be excited or to feel very afraid!

*****

It was decided the girls that had their babies aborted would stay in the workhouse forever. They would cook and clean and never be allowed to go back into the outside world ever again, so they would be unable to tell their story.

Professor Shakeshaft became engrossed with his research work on the embryos and he soon forgot about his initial dilemma. He had a wonderful new laboratory attached to the workhouse, where he and John could carry on their work unseen. Many of the embryos were discarded but those kept for experimental purposes were initially kept alive and preserved in special glass containers. These containers of different sizes lined the walls of the laboratory, and infants at various stages of development gazed out.

As they got older a research crèche was needed and it was there that infants, who had never seen the outside world, played together. During the night a few of the workhouse girls were brought in to help look after the children, not realising that one of these children could be their own, as they thought their babies had been aborted or miscarried. As long as neither the workhouse girls nor their babies left the workhouse, the research programme was safe.

There were four infants in the crèche at that time, each being worked upon by the Professor, as he looked for a cure for diphtheria. As he and John left the lab that evening and handed over to the workhouse girls, everything looked to be under control. They padlocked the door behind them and let themselves out into the dull and dingy night. The lamplight reflected pools of warmth onto the rain soaked cobbles, as they walked along Cleveland Street to their respective lodgings, chatting amiably about their work.

The following morning was cold and damp as they walked under the workhouse arch to let themselves back into the austere three storey brick building. The gatehouse porter acknowledged their passing.  Shutting out the city’s gloomy greyness they unlocked the door leading to their laboratory – unprepared for the bloodbath that awaited them!

The Workhouse Carers they had left happy and healthy the evening before, were now lying on the floor in pools of blood, their stomachs having been eaten away, leaving a gaping hole. Inside the bloody hole, curled up, sucking their tiny fingers and gurgling contentedly, lay the research babies, blood still dripping from their rosebud lips.

One baby stirred and looked up at them.

‘Mama, Mama,’ it gurgled, before snuggling itself back down into the womb.

THE END