Nice Times (7)

When I was an EMT, I often had to work New Year’s Eve night duty, one of the busiest shifts of the year for ambulances in London. During one shift, we bought a bottle of champagne in a local shop. When we got into our local casualty department just before midnight, we opened the champagne in the tea room, and poured small measures into paper cups for the nurses and doctors on duty. Just after the clock passed twelve, we carried them out on a tray and passed them around, shouting “Happy New Year” to each nurse or doctor in turn. (We didn’t drink any) Then it was back out into the busy night, but it had been a nice moment indeed.

My mum and I owned a large long-haired German Shepherd dog, Skipper. We had him from a tiny pup, and he grew into a huge dog. When I got married, he stayed with my mum, and almost fifteen years later, he was living with her in a small flat in Peckham. One day, she rang me to tell me he couldn’t stand up, and his back legs did not seem to be working. She couldn’t take him out, and he wouldn’t eat anything, or drink any water. I drove over to see her, and could see that poor Skipper was close to the end. I rang the Vet and asked him to come out to put our dog to sleep. He agreed to do so, if we paid an exhorbitant extra charge, and came just over an hour later. My mum was too upset to stay in the room, but I sat on the floor with Skipper’s head in my lap as the Vet injected him. Our old dog looked up at me as he died, and I stroked his head. As sad as it was, that was nice for me, to be there for Skipper in his final moments.

On the day that I resigned from the London Ambulance Service to work for the police, I had to go into the main station at Fulham and hand my letter over to the Station Officer. She was an experienced Paramedic who had swapped operational duties for being a manager. I had been the union representative for many years, and we had experienced some run-ins and confrontational moments previously. But that morning, she genuinely tried to persuade me to stay on. When I declined, she thanked me for all my service, for being a fair but firm union man, and stood up to shake my hand. We had worked as adversaries, but left the room as friends.

After I had retired and moved to Norfolk, I spent a long time working as a volunteer for the the Fire Service. I would drive around installing smoke alarms, talking to various groups, and attending school fire safety displays. I had to ring the elderly or disabled people who qualified for the free smoke alarms, and arrange my own appointments. One day, I rang an very old lady who lived in a small village about eight miles from Beetley, and she agreed for me to go to her house the next morning at eleven. She was walking using a frame on wheels, and her back was very bent from age and arthritis. I changed her old defunct smoke alarm for a new one, and showed her how it worked. As I was leaving, she presented me with a small Victoria Sponge cake she had made for me, saying “I got up at six this morning to make it fresh for you”. A lovely old lady.

61 thoughts on “Nice Times (7)

  1. (1) Champagne wishes, but no caviar dreams? [Note: Robin Leach lived his last years in Las Vegas.]
    (2) Skipper’s real name was Jonas Grumby.
    (3) “We had worked as adversaries, but left the room as friends.” Many countries can also make that claim.
    (4) A man lit a cigarette in a retirement home. This set off a smoke alarm with an electronic voice: “Stop it! Have a slice of sponge cake instead!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pete, it is wonderful how memories can give one a lift years later, even the sad story of your dog and your last moments together. It’s good you could end on friendly terms with the Station Manager and she must have felt the same. Always better that way. Hope you’re having a good week (in the midst of the craziness of Covid!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pete, these are precious memories. What a beautiful life you’ve led; to know loss is to gain so much appreciation for the small things you recognize around you and in others. You’re a good man, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. All terrific memories Pete…I’ve said this before to you, but the absolute worst part of having a loving pet is they are destined not to live as long as you, and it’s a crushing loss to see them go…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly is, John. Even when I didn’t have a dog, I had to take my mum’s dogs to be put to sleep as she could never face it. I once had to take two in less than a year, even though I also found it very upsetting.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have always stayed with my pets at the end. I can’t imagine not being with them but I know many find it too painful. For me it would be more painful to not be there. I love the sponge cake lady. How sweet. All your stories are nice, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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