19th August 1961

August 19th


Dear Diary

Feeling very, very sleepy.  We crawled to the dining room for breakfast and crawled out again.  By the time we had packed the last odds and ends it was ten to eight.

The taxi was already there when I reached reception.  We said our farewells to David and Ian who were staying over another week- and, the taxi pulled out of the camp.  Breaking the final ties of a marvellous holiday.

Lena’s ankle was very stiff this morning and cramping it in a small space between the seats of the coach didn’t help it any.  We both slept during the first 3 hours of the journey, much to the surprise of the woman sitting behind us, who informed us of that fact the first chance she got.

The coach stopped at 12 for a break and Lena’s ankle was swollen and very, very painful.  She didn’t want to move but knew she had to go to the Ladies, so, with the help of one of the passengers we half carried her there.  The poor girl was suffering so much, there were tears of pain in her eyes. We agreed the best thing we could do was to get her to a doctor at the first opportunity, which would be when we reached home.

We arrived at Victoria Coach Station at 2.30.  By then Lena’s ankle was enormous and I just didn’t know what to do.  I collected the cases out of the coach and she sat on them.  It was obvious she could move no further.  The only thing I could think of was to phone home and see what Dad could suggest.  There was I, stuck slap bang in the middle of Victoria Coach Station with 2 cases, two bags and a girl who couldn’t walk.  Things were bad enough as they were but when I couldn’t get through to home I just felt like bursting into tears.  Not going to bed the night before had made my nerves terrible and all this trouble was just too much.

When I returned to Lena to tell her the bad news I found her talking to a woman and a girl.  The woman was the most ‘terribly, terribly’ person I had ever met and the daughter was a typical deb.  They suggested we should get to a hospital as soon as possible, and the woman, who we found out to be Mrs. Hawtrey, said as soon as she had seen two people off she would come with us.

When she discovered the coach she wanted didn’t leave til 30 mins later she said it was too long for Lena (who was in tears) to wait. She and her daughter helped Lena to the entrance while I grabbed as much of our luggage as I could carry and got a taxi.  After loading all the cases on, I could do nothing but wait for them to make their slow progress to the taxi.  Much to everyone’s surprise a young chap came over and offered to carry her.  His offer was gratefully accepted and she was lifted into the taxi.

Mrs Hawtrey was the kindest person imaginable.  She gave me her address and telephone number and said, if I couldn’t get home that night I was to go round to her flat and stay the night.  If Lena was with me we were both to go.  She even told me where the key was in case she wasn’t in.  I was just overwhelmed, I could have burst into tears there and then.

The taxi took us to St Thomas hospital and under different circumstances I would really have enjoyed that ride through the West End in a cab.  There is nothing better to make you feel somebody.

After a lot of rigmarole the doctor saw Lena and said the ankle was infected and so had swollen up.

Meanwhile I had tried again to get through to the family via the neighbour’s phone.  This time Eddie answered and told me the family hadn’t yet returned from their holiday.  I was desperate and explained the position.  He, the darling, said to stay where we were and he would come and pick us up in his car.

The doctor was quite confused by the both of us.  At different times during the conversation we’d said we had come from, Dorset, from Dagenham and from Victoria.  After long, incoherent explanations he finally got the story.

He remarked on how tired we both looked and I told him we had been up all night. He said I was to take Lena to a local hospital Monday morning, though the swelling should be down by then, and he gave us a letter for them.

Eddie arrived just as the doctor had finished, so we drove back home.  The hospital is in the Waterloo area, near Lambeth Palace, and we drove back across Westminster Bridge which gave Lena a chance to see Big Ben and the H of P.  As it turned out, the only chance she got.

We arrived home and were met by two very worried families.  Mine and Mrs. Whatmough’s.  Mr. Whatmough had got the story mixed up and told them Lena had either sprained or broken her ankle.  Mum said she had never seen me so worried as I did when I got out of that car.

Frankly I was expecting myself to burst into tears when I saw a familiar face again.  By the time we reached home I was beyond that point.

What a day!  The worst I’ve ever been through I think.  I was thankful to get into bed.


Maureen's Diary Week 32: 13th - 21st August 1961

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