Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Nurse Gladys And Mary Ellen Baines - Part The Second

I don't recall Nana ever mentioning what Mary Ellen Baines' specific psychiatric problem was. In those days, you didn't always necessarily get so specific a description of mental illnesses (the ward that Nana worked was simply referred to as "the mental ward"). What I do know was that she had it in for Nana and that Nana would always remember her run-in with Mary Ellen Baines. (And a small side note here:- whenever Nana would tell this story to us, she would always refer to the woman in question as Mary Ellen Baines. Never "Mary Ellen" or "Mrs Baines" or "that bloody Baines woman". Always "Mary Ellen Baines' in full and always said with a sense of exasperation. Anyway, I digress.)

Why the woman took exception to her, my Nana never knew but exception she did take. The early indication that perhaps the Baines woman had taken a dislike to her came when she chased Nurse Gladys round a table wielding a kitchen knife she'd managed to get hold of. That sort of thing tends to hint towards a rather strong dislike at the very least. Fortunately, that was only instance of threatened physical violence between the two of them but Mary Ellen Baines found other ways to continue her campaign against Nana...

One of the more mundane aspects of the job being the bringing round of the patient's cup of tea. All very straightforward except that, on every occasion that Nurse Gladys was the one to deliver the tea, Mary Ellen Baines complains that her tea is cold. And, upon being checked, it is. Absolutely stone cold. Now, Nurse Gladys was baffled by this for, every day, she serves the patients hot tea from the same urn and, when checked, all of theirs are still hot or, at the very least, warm.

Stumped by this mystery and, from their suspicious looks when they come to visit, beginning to think that the Baines family are convinced that she's the one with the problem, Nurse Gladys was determined to get to the bottom of this. So, one afternoon, she served the tea as normal but, with a surreptitious stealth that MI6 would be proud of, she hung back out of sight to observe Mary Ellen Baines with a cup of tea that is nothing less than piping hot.

The Baines woman had a quick check about to see if anyone was watching (not noticing the sneaky surveillance of Nursey Nana), maneuvered herself out of bed and slunk off with her steaming cup. Maintaining a discreet distance, Nurse Gladys set off in hot pursuit. Mary Ellen Baines made her way to the ladies room and, with one last quick about, crept her way inside. Quick as flash, Nurse Gladys caught her in the act. Said act? Emptying out half of her cup of tea into the sink and topping it up with cold water.

Having been caught in the act, Mary Ellen Baines was duly chastised and our Nana was absolved of all blame in The Case Of The Cold Tea. However, like Holmes and Moriarty, their rivalry was not yet over (it won't be spoiling anything, though, by telling you that this rivalry doesn't end with the two of them plunging over the waterfall - unless that is you haven't read "The Final Problem" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in which case I have just spoiled that. Sorry.)

To Be Concluded...

No comments: