a blast from the past in 2013….


Yes, I watch the British soaps here in my home in Toronto… have done for decades now.

EastEnders is a couple of years behind for us, so I have no idea if the character Eddie Moon is still part and parcel of the show in 2013!

eddie moonI just have to say that when his character appeared on Eastenders a while ago, I thought wow, it’s amazing when I see a man with a full head of fully grey hair, I don’t look too closely at first (yes in my early 60’s now, I am still a blonde). However, when I did get a real look at old Eddie, I thought wow, he must have been a real charming looker way back when, um .. hell, he is a looker now!!! I rattled my brain wondering if I could figure out if this actor was big when he was young. Having limited knowledge of the UK TV scene, I thought to myself, he was probably some famous dashing character on 70’s or 80’s British TV series… ! I thought that I had already looked at his name on the program closing credits … I guess I didn’t!! Imagine my surprise when last night I happened to glance at the name Eddie Moon, only to glimpse the name David Essex!! a blast from the past that I do remember…


Now I actually don’t know anything about Mr. Essex except that he was a fairly big name, a touch on the glam-rock type singer and had some hits back in the 70’s including the above, and when I lived in London for a while the  ‘We’re Gonna Make You A Star’ … I loved that number, and I remember seeing his face on the telly and in some mags and  thinking how gorgeous he looked.  Now, of course, I can totally see him as an actor, especially as the cockney father of an assortment of young men in Albert Square..

This is an excerpt from a previous post that I wrote about first visit to Biba back in 1976 (London~ magical visit ~ BiBa) :

Armchairs and couches! With live people sitting in them (in the display windows)! Turns out that the BIBA shoppers were the display, and they were truly fabulous trendoids! What an incredible idea I thought, trust BIBA to think of such a cutting edge concept so far removed from traditional stores. I approached the glass doors with total rapture. I walked in and immediately was immersed in loud heavenly (to me) music. It was one of my absolute favourite tracks: David Essex and ‘I Want To Make You A Star”! Somehow, it fit my enchantment so perfectly.essexa There were many counters, fabulous Art Deco décor, heavenly scents, artfully arranged racks of beautiful clothes, totally hip salesgirls and of course the vibrant beautiful people who were the customers. There was even a tea place with light fare. I eventually became part of the window display as I sat in a plush comfy armchair drinking my pop and smoking a ciggy taking a break from the ‘hell’ of shopping. BIBA more than lived up to my expectations.

Fancy that!!  Mr. Essex grew up real good…


so seventies................

somewhere in the mid to late seventies…………. went to Vidal Sassoon Salon in Toronto, my sis always went there, when she wasn’t going to the House of Lords (which believe it or not, still exists somewhere on Yonge Street). The stylist told me that golden wasn’t really moi, so I let him dye my locks dark ash blonde………………… I think it lasted perhaps 3 days, then I bought a box of light golden blonde dye and went back to being what I feel is me….workI suppose I kept it long enough to go to work…

oscarOscar is the plant behind me (a chefalure…?? that my sis and bro bought for my mum on mother’s day not long after we emigrated to Canada.  I still have Oscars great-great-great offspring). Back to golden blonde with roots, and bleached eyebrows and little denim piny…chrisitoine& cat

Yes it is an awful wig.  I bought a couple of wigs in the 70’s – experimenting with new looks, including a brown very curly (not quite afro) wig. 


browny curls..

My sis and I were playing around with clothes and taking photos of each other.  She is wearing my awful light ash blond wig.  Ahem, we both loved Cat Stevens…

funky robert&xtinebthis is a cute shot of my brother and sister also fooling around with photos.  She is wearing a sou’wester that my bro bought during his year in England…

xtin&meOMG … this is a pic of me and sis on a new year’s eve in the mid 70’s.  I don’t know if she went out to party, but I remember I did, hoping to hook up with a certain guy!  Acht, he was with someone else, as was my other hope, (his bro).  Horrible new years eve for me!!  Please excuse the ‘orrible flashy belt I am wearing.  I borrowed the striped cross-over top from sis.  She is wearing a Miss Selfridge top.  The biggest store in Canada in the last century was EATONS.  They had the wisdom in the 70’s to add a Miss Selfridge (from pre TOPSHOP Selfridges) to their YouthWear department!!  We bought quite a bit of Miss Selfridge gear back then…

of past hospitals and jails…

Fortunately for me, my geriatric rotation in my Canadian nurses training of 2  years at TGH School of Nursing was mercifully short compared with my post The Hell That Is Geriatrics The Memorial Hospital.  Well, at least it seemed shorter and much less traumatic than my sink or swim days training as a State Registered Nurse in Woolwich.  Our rotations were closely interspersed with classes, ward instructors, group work.  I actually do not remember anything of my patients in the Riverdale Hospital,

an old photo of Riverdale Hospital c:1963

an old photo of Riverdale Hospital c:1963

1244, Item 1152).

The Don Jail, c 1950 (courtesy City of Toronto Archives/Fonds

which was a relatively new geriatric hospital in Toronto.  This is perhaps sad, but what I do remember about Riverdale is that one side of the hospital building looked onto the exercise yard of Toronto’s ancient Don Jail,

The Don Jail in the 1970's

The Don Jail in the 1970’s.  I believe that the old gothic looking building was closed and the inmates were transfered to the newer built jail on the left


You can see the old Riverdale Hospital, now the Bridgepoint Rehab being renovated in 2010, and there is the Don Jail on the right…. the juxtaposition of the geriatric hospital to the disintegrating jail that I recall from 1974

which I believe at the time was more of a holding centre for prisoners.  At a certain time each morning, the male prisoners (I think it was just men) would be taking their outside break in the exercise yard.  This of course created much interest for a gaggle of student nurses, some of whom would wait at the window on those mornings, and be rewarded by a bunch of men looking up and waving.  That’s what I remember about my geriatric rotation in Toronto.  Perhaps after The Memorial experience, I blocked out the Riverdale experience…………. who knows??!


here you can see the distinctive curved hospital located very close the former jail

An interesting postscript to these 2 institutions is that Bridgepoint Rehab (physical not drug) took over the Riverdale Hospital in 2009.  The Don Jail was closed in 197xx?  Now the Bridgepoint has been in the process of building a brand new rehab centre around the curves of the Riverdale, the shell of which will be demolished when the new Bridgepoint building is completed.  Most interesting to me is that Bridgepoint people also own the empty Don Jail, will be restoring and  renovating it also into executive offices for the Bridgies.. and perhaps some more B Hospital ammenities..

I visited my kids’ former carer, a few winters ago.  She had broken her second hip and was at Bridgepoint for physical rehabilitation.  It still reminded me of the old Riverdale Hospital geography.Bridgepoint-Health-June-21-2011-IMG_0551

and below is  the new Bridgmount building in progress built at the side of the old hospital they took over…. I heard it and it’s jail abutment is supposed to be completed this fall.

urbantoronto-7188-24180..Interesting idea to convert a jail as part of a big downtown rehabilitation hospital…………………… I should go and see the finished product when it is done…

For the benefit of fellow Brook student nurse, Florence, I am showing this class photo of the student nurses that enrolled at the Brook General School of Nursing in September, 1972.  I am Carol the blond in back row.  A few first names I remember were Diane, Marion, Anne ( a lovely Welsh gal), Naomi, Jasmin, Sue, Jean, Wilma, David, Andrew, Pete and ‘Sprog’brook….  I met a wonderful lot of fellow-student nurses in my one year at the Brook..


just a snapshot …on my own ….

1970 crimpy...

It was 1970, I had graduated from high school, even though I had to go to summer school to get my math… now was it math A, math B, geometry, trig, algebra, new math????……….. I hated mathematics and only got a final mark of 35% in Grade XIII… which thankfully became 58% when I had completed summer school, so I did get my diploma.

As I had no clear direction of where I wanted to go with my life, I decided not to go to Teachers College or Brock University… even though I acutally got acceptance letters from both of them.

I got an afternoon job downtown at Teela Digest at Dundas Square, on the basis of my neat handwriting! I was to put the small Teela Digest insert into envelopes that I had addressed. From that day until this, I had no idea what this company did!!

I had finished work at 4:30pm on a Friday and decided to go to downtown Yonge Street to check out the goings-on. The big news was that Toronto’s busiest street, would be turned into a pedestrian mall for a long weekend.

It was hot and humid, and the busiest blocks of ‘downtown’, from Gerrard Street to Queen Street, had been converted into what I could describe as a big, busy very crowded street market. Most of the pubs and restaurants had spread out to the sidewalks. Smaller shops and boutiques had put out rails of clothes, all on sale! There was ‘live’ music in the street, although I could not tell you who! It was shall I say a very hearty scene!

Oh yeah, my hair! …  back to that!   I had managed to grow my hair just past shoulder length, keeping up my blonding every six weeks or so…. and hadn’t had a perm for a couple of years. But I still loved wavy hair. Somewhat by accident few weeks ealier, I had fallen asleep with my damp hair in 2 braids. When I took out the braids the next day ~ Yeah!  KINKY WAVY HAIR!! I more or less wore my hair this way for the next couple of years. Sometimes the waves were very good!, sometimes hit and miss.. and I could never figure out how to get the ends of my hair to curl nicely and not to stick out ( I tried hot rollers, bobby pin curls,  little perm rollers… none to my satisfaction).

In this photobooth photo, I am wearing a jumpsuit that my MuM made for me out of orange sailcloth. She added the shirring when the neckline bulged out a little… Oh what I really loved about this pattern was that the straps criss-crossed in the back meeting the rest of the suit just above my bra-line!  However, I could not go bra-less as my boobs were just not perky enough, (my sister had such nice firm breasts)…  But unless I wore my favourite jumpsuit with a tee, my bra and straps showed… and I really fancied wearing it as a summer jumpsuit like I had seen in my mags, especially as Toronto summers get so darned hot….what to do?? Guess what I found at the the drug store?… stick-on cups that you place under each breast. I know, they are still around. So I bought a pair and eagerly tried them on! They worked in that there was no bra peeking out the back… I did not particularly like the shape that they gave my tits, but under my jumpsuit, my shape was quite blurred from the front!

now if I continue and tell the tale of what I got up to that evening at the Yonge Street Mall 1970... i might have to kill ya….. later!

friends in the workplace…



Can you believe how exquisite Sue’s handwriting is!!!

Funny thing, I didn’t think that I had any friends when I lived with Ty, as I was so absorbed in him.  I found these old letters from 2 people I do remember from JJ.  We continued to correspond after I left London and went back with my tail between my legs, to Toronto.  The letter above was from Sue B.  She had worked at JJ longer than most.  She was one of 2 head cashiers, younger than me and when I started at JJ, she showed me the ropes.  I thought she was really cool, but she also seemed somewhat cool (read dipped temperature interaction) toward sensitive old me.  She was so pretty, had long blonde hair parted in the middle and was always sweeping one side of her growing-out fringe out of her eyes.  I envied her swaggering walk. I loved her London (not sure which part of London) accent and thought she was so self-assured.  Turns out in reality, she was not so confident (like most of us I suppose), but she always managed to project a ‘what the hell, I don’t give a fuck what you think about, don’t mess me!!’ personna.

As I gradually got to know Sue at work and after work at the pub… sometimes the Argyle (close to the London Palladium) and other times the Phoenix, which seemed to be the JJ local… I realized that she was a really nice young woman with self-confidence issues (What!! her too??) and anxiety about her future.  She had completed school, but did not want to work in a shop for the rest of her life!  She had spent a year in Greece, learning the language as she worked in touristy pubs or clubs.  I told her she was amazingly brave to have been able to work in a foreign speaking country like she did!  Unfortunately we did not keep up our correspondences… (probably my fault, but who knows?)


This letter was from Bill… a (younger than me … it seemed they all were as I reached my 25th birthday working at JJ) young man of about 23, who had hailed originally from Lebanon.  He had been brought up in London, but would occasionally pay a visit to relatives still living in Lebanon.  One day, after returning from a flying visit to Lebanon, which at that time was always in the news for death, bombs, destruction, shelling, smashed buildings…  (I dont remember the cause of the strife back then other than it degenerating into a civil war), Bill handed me a cassette tape and asked me to put it in the tape deck.  Thinking it was music, I did, only to be assaulted by the sound of loud machine guns, explosions and general mayhem!  Of course, Dennis (I think) the manager rushed over and exclaimed ‘what the hell is that??’  Billy, dark and swarthy, was full of male bravado, but once I got to know him, he was really a pussycat!!   Again, I don’t know whose fault is was that our correspondence ended.

You may  notice the self-fulfilling prophecy noted in both letters…………… that no-one from the old JJ days, writes back!

Of course if we had had smartphones back then…..   who knows.

back to London.... 1977

This is me in Otober 1977 standing at the bus stop in Hackney waiting for the bus to take me to Mile End tube station…. the same stop I waited at many a time a couple of years earlier, to go to work at JJ on Oxford Street…My friend Darla took this photo…

September 1977

This time it was a ‘holiday’…. why? because I wanted to see Ty!!! He still lived at the VicPark house, his mum in the basement!  I was working as an RN at HSC, making a good buck, living in a big apartment in Toronto with my brother and his girlfriend.

I don’t think I arranged beforehand to stay with him, because I have a couple of photos of me staying at a B&B. My friend Darla had arranged to fly over with her pal Carolyn about a week after I had arrived in London. Carolyn was staying about 4 days in London, and then would be leaving Darla to visit her relatives who lived in England. So the plan was that after Carolyn left, Darla and I would hook up and do London.

I give Darla credit for wanting to join me for a the rest of the 3 week holiday, bunking up at Ty’s house. Darla and I did London well and I had a really good time. We even went to a punk club called ‘the Vortex’ and survived an evening of pogoing punks!  There were punk bands galore, screaming, cursing, yelling, frenetic energy, vibrating eardrums, flying sweat, lithe young men and women jumping into every body around, booze and probably lots of the other…. For safety of our limbs, Darla and I tried to stay glued to one of the walls, but then we realized that to get to the bar, which was near the stage, we had to make our way through moving walls of hopping limbs… I swear it took us 15 minutes to safely negotiate ourselves from a wall (we tried the other 2 walls, they were all just as bad)… after all, it’s not the sort of place you would want to experience sober..  A straight looking guy, well I suppose I looked straight too, compared to the devoted audience, started to chat me up, and perhaps he got us a couple of beers… I cannot remember too well… except that I had to tell him to sling his hook, as we were headed back to our London host!!!



It took me less than a day to realize that Ty was never going to change…. I think I knew that even before I left Toronto. Perhaps it was ‘closure’ for me… I was never going to have a life with a broken, damaged alcoholic man no matter how much I loved him!  Thank God, I had my return flight to Canada and my own life….

declps…………. checking up on some of my blog entries, I see that some of the photos I added have SHRUNK …….. don’t know why, and I can’t seem to fix them in WP anyway….

student nurses staff the wards….


yes I know… another British TV portrayal of nurses but love the caps…

Our training schedule had blocks of classes & then bigger blocks of working on the wards.  I quickly learned that our long blocks of ward work, apart from invaluable experience learning, had another purpose.  As it turned out student (SRN 3 year training) and pupil (SEN 2 years training) nurses seemed to be the guts of the hospital labour force & of course the NHS, hardly too surprising I suppose as the training did not come with a tuition price tag.  Classroom education blocks which were about 4 weeks long, consisting of anatomy, physiology, biology, pharmacology, disease process, tests and practical learning: making beds, administering injections, inserting naso-gastric tubes, and then for the next month or two, we were literally thrown onto the wards where we worked 5 full shifts and 1 or 2 half shifts a week. Our work schedule was determined by the ward sister and hence we also ended up working evening and night shifts.  We were paid a stipend, and cost of our lodgings, uniforms, laundry, and food, were taken off, leaving us a little money to do little else than buy toiletries, have a night out once in a while…  It actually wasn’t too bad at all!


not my best photoediting job, but this is basically how my uniform looked with the fabric belt matching dress, showing that you were a student nurse…

Work soon became relatively routine. The most fun I had in that training part of my life, was a 2 month stint on Simpson ward, which was male orthopaedics.  A long ‘room’ lined by many beds filled with men of all ages on each side.  Now here was a task for me to undertake, a ward full of men!, and me with my gammy leg and having  to wear a ‘dress’ of course, but at that time nurses wearing trousers was unheard of.   I still remember how that dress with the pinned-on crisp white apron felt, and having to wear tights under it all.  Thinking back, apart from the old self-consciousness kicking in, revealing my dark passenger, it felt pretty good, almost sexy, how my uniform swished as I walked ….’dressy’ I suppose, because I never wore dresses unless I had to.  If I did not have a disfigured leg, I probably would have loved dresses and worn them often.

On Simpson ward, the Sister was a chubby woman, quite tall with dark curly hair, not too old (I always found it hard to determine age when I was young) and hallelujah she actually had a sense of humour and was quite decent. Not like the sister I encountered on my very first ward, which was female medical. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of that ward. In Britain, it seems that many hospitals name their wards after famous British doctors and contributors to medicine, whereas here in North America they use geographical logical directions for their patient units. This sister was skinny with short greying hair, quite unattractive with glasses and a sergeant major type manner and I do believe she was a (yes, I am being mean) spinster.. I remember not long after I had started my stint on that first ward, I was in the nurses’ area where all the charts were. I was sitting and perusing my patient’s chart, when sister sternly called out “S” (my surname)! get up and let the doctor sit there, …and go make him a cup of tea”! Talk about your sucking up!

A strange coincidence occurred on my first day on that ward. It was an evening shift and I approached the ward entrance with trepidation. I was told to report to the sister’s office, with no idea where anything was. I must have checked a room where the door was slightly ajar. I had wrongly assumed that all the wards were open. I peaked my head into the room only to see a lifeless body lying on a hospital bed wrapped somewhat in a sheet. It was an older lady who was obviously deceased. I was to find out later that she died of complications of multiple sclerosis, just as my sister was to 20 odd years down the line.

the objectifying of women ~ Gynae Clinic in the 7Os

Nursing School in Toronto

The GYN rotation was also fascinating.  Therapeutic abortions were quite common in those days, and I actually saw a tiny foetus expelled as the result of a saline abortion.  Yes, it was awful and heartbreaking, but I certainly did not judge the patient, and believed passionately in a woman’s right to choose.

I would say the most bizarre experience in my whole nursing education was the gynaecological outpatient department in this huge Toronto hospital.  On a Thursday afternoon each week, there was a gynae clinic for new immigrant women.  In the 1960s and 70s, there was a huge influx of immigration to Toronto (myself being one).  I remember that this clinic afternoon was always busy, bustling and crowded with a conveyor-belt-like line of women to be seen.  Many of these women were Italian and Portuguese,  usually  accompanied by their mothers, or other female relatives, and I believe there were some interpreters to help with the consultations as few could speak much English.

this is only a photoedit of what I remember.... the cubicles were a little more narrow than this...

this is only a photoedit of what I remember…. the cubicles were a little more narrower than this… and these would be the outer curtains, not the inner half-curtain that came down to the top of the examining table…..

Now my memory dims in the exact picture of this clinic, but here goes!! Each examining table was located in a cubicle, which was just a little wider than the actual  table.  There were about 8 cubicles, all joined in a row.   There was the usual privacy curtain on the outside of each.  What I found odd was 2nd half curtain hanging from the ceiling located halfway across the cubicle and ending at the height of the examining table.    So when the gynaecologists and their many interns, medical students and residents would approach their patients, all that could be seen were two spread legs and a vagina on an examining table under a curtain.  I hope that after the physical examinations, there would be some face to face contact between doctors and these female patients, but I am not too sure all were privy to a consultation.  Lets just say, I don’t believe these women were treated as professionally as they should have been.

As a student in this particular gynae clinic, I would sometimes be helping these patients to undress and settle on the ungainly tables behind the half curtain.  Other times, I would be following the trail of the mainly male doctors and students going from cubicle to cubicle in front of the row of open legs – sometimes, more than one curtain would be open, thereby showing disembodied legs and vaginas, of those who had not yet been examined.  Horribly disrespectful I thought!!

Thinking back, it was probably the clinic nurses’ responsibility to ensure curtains were open or closed, but as I said before, this clinic was so very busy, and without the occasional help of the added bodies of student nurses, the situation of embarrassing displays probably was commonplace and perhaps not always addressed as it should have been.

I really hate to say this but, because of the anonymity of the curtains, language barrier, and perhaps the fact that this was the early seventies, I was witness to more than a few disgusting displays of juvenile chauvinistic behavior amongst the mostly male medical crowd: some repressed titters at a particularly hirsute pelvic area, and some silently holding their noses and making nasty faces at odourous vaginas…

It seems difficult to believe that this occurred in my female youth, but it did!