I had written so far on Sunday morning when a knock came to the front door. F Coote was there with his little Austin to see if I would go an hour or two. Another little son had arrived two months before he was expected. Only the Dr and Ivy Jinks were there, but F had fetched Nurse Shaw and then come for me. I called Jean who got up in a hurry not knowing, as she said, whether it was an unexploded bomb or mine or what. Fortunately Father had gone on watch at 8 or we should all have been in bed, it was only about 8.20. We were soon there and things were naturally in a bit of a mess. The event was to have been away from home, and she had arranged to go to Nurse S’s house on Sat. but had seemed better so went to bed Sat night alright but it all happened so quickly there was no getting her away. Anyway she and the child were alright, but she seemed to have made no preparation for emergencies and had to send out to borrow bed-linen. The nurse is a “just so” person and wanted to have the Amb[ulance] and take Pattie to her own home where she is fitted up for everything. Naturally as it was over F. did not want the expense and the Dr said she was quite comfortable and no need to move her at all. That was later in the day. Ivy is a good girl and we soon cleared up, Mr C. senior was in bed thro’ it all. He has been ill. F arranged to take him to Thom Coote’s for a few days. I did not see the baby, I just looked in at poor Pattie, she looked so helpless. The house is so shabby everything wants renewing. Our shabby room looked quite bright and comfortable after theirs. The big boiler in the new grate is cracked so all the water has to be heated in kettles. I am sorry she has let herself go so as she is really quite capable. Jean took herself off to Rene at Mr A’s. as she thought she would be up. As she said “The nurse looked at her as if she didn’t ought to be there”. I was rather sorry for Nurse too having to leave her comfortable home to come to such a mess, but she is capable and Ivy is strong and willing, they could soon be comfortable the only thing is there is never anything there to do anything with. No dolly-tub, so I could not put clothes to soak, as I would have done. Don’t know what they’d do. It was lent to someone. After I had helped clear up and done veg. for dinner, I only seemed in the way so came home to get dinner and clear up at home. Brought Paddy he is such a good boy, 17 months but well on his feet and a mouthful of teeth, but I was really shocked to find he has had no training in clean habits and poor mite was packed up with a thick Turkish nappy rubber knicks (I am afraid I shocked Jean. I called them inventions of the devil for lazy mothers) wool knicks and then a complete wool suit, and wool isn’t very sweet. Besides he can’t walk properly. I do hope Nurse S. will introduce a little reform there. The thing is Pattie is not ignorant, she was nurse to children before she was married, and it doesn’t save work it makes it. What she will do with two I don’t know, perhaps settle down at last to making a home. I was to go for an hour or two Monday but Jean crocked up and could not go to school, so could not go. F said they had got things going alright and Nurse settled down to it.
Jean hasn’t gone again to-day as it poured with rain and I don’t want her to get a chill. Lengthened her gym tunic last night, do hope it will last until summer frocks. It is not worn out but I can’t let it down any more she has grown so. Heard from Ron yesterday, he had been sent to do duty at the cook-house one night for omitting his hut number on his laundry parcel. Says it was “more nourishment than punishment”. Hot sausage supper and he scrounged a sandwich for his pal. Rene, Jean and I all wrote to him yesterday. Haven’t heard from Em. since Xmas, have written twice. Wish she would, I have that uneasy feeling that has often presaged trouble in that quarter before this. However I may be unduly anxious, she usually writes if in need of anything but not always. I have a bad pain between my shoulders, hope it isn’t the ‘black dog of asthma’ digging in his knees, I have eaten extra well lately.
Ivy Jinks, who was helping Mrs Coote, lived in Hogsthorpe. Her brother John was a member of the Home Guard.
Nurse Shaw was a local midwife.
Jack Coote, ‘Mr C senior’, the father of Frank Coote, lived with his son and family next door to ‘Sunny Side’.
Thomas (Tom) Coote, the brother of Jack, lived in Skegness Road.
‘Em’, here, almost certainly refers to May’s sister, Emily.
NOTE: Support for the full reproduction, in this blog, of the original Diary entries referring to his parents and family has kindly been given by Mr Paddy Coote, although he does not necessarily agree with the opinions expressed by May Hill.
Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?