‘A bit disjointed’ – Please, Nurse! By Joan Lock

please nurseThe book is a memoir about Lock’s first job as a trainee nurse in the fifties. Lock was just sixteen when she started out as a junior nurse, working on the wards among a host of characters. The Matrons and Sisters are people of terrifying absolute authority, while the junior nurses are mostly teenage girls, wanting to live a little while getting the work done.

Surgeons and doctors are seen as demi-gods, and they certainly act as if they are, demanding that all staff give in to their requests. Each surgeon has their own way of doing things and are fully convinced that they are right. The nurses put up with each one of them, sometimes in fear, sometimes with eyes rolling towards the ceiling as the next demand comes in.

Lock paints a picture of a demanding job on a young girl, where there weren’t enough nurses to manage in the wards. The girls, and occasional man, were thrown into the deep end and expected to cope with whatever was thrown at them. Even the student nurses who were still earning what the instruments were called.

I was interested in the idea because I love reading about the past but this book disappointed me. It was very short, though there was enough material for it to be three or four times longer. The book was a bit disjointed, it hopped from one thing to another too quickly. Some patients had pages dedicated to them while others had just five lines. It wasn’t enough. People were skipped over, others mentioned once and never spoke of again. And Lock’s personal life was confusing and only lightly mentioned.

Any Cop?: This story really could have been so much more, it’s a good start and a snapshot of what life was like then, but that’s it. It’s just a small introduction that leaves you wanting more.


Claire Snook


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