Jenny is placed on the district nursing roster for a few weeks, to extend her experience of community practice. Her first patient is a gentle old soldier, Joe, who is suffering from appalling leg ulcers. In his eighties and almost... More
Jenny is placed on the district nursing roster for a few weeks, to extend her experience of community practice. Her first patient is a gentle old soldier, Joe, who is suffering from appalling leg ulcers. In his eighties and almost blind, Joe is effectively confined to his one-roomed tenement flat and enjoys Jenny's visits. Although not naturally chatty, Jenny appreciates his stories, and a tentative friendship forms. The story of their emerging friendship is interwoven with that of Ted, who becomes a father rather late in life. His wife, Winnie, is in her forties, and had thought her days of nappies and babies were well behind her. They have only recently married. For Ted, a childless widower in his sixties, it was a stunningly sweet and unexpected romance; for Winnie, it was a pragmatic step that secured her future. The pregnancy is a surprise to them both and Ted, who never imagined he would be a father, is overjoyed, and throws his heart and soul into the preparations. Winnie, sadly, seems less than thrilled. Ted is exceptionally solicitous and he enthusiastically accompanies Winnie to her clinic visits, and takes the lead in sorting out the pram and the layette. Despite her growing fondness for Joe, Jenny remains revolted by the filthy condition of his flat and even feels unable to accept a cup of tea from him, so unclean are his cups. Their friendship is saved – and indeed cemented – when he produces a bottle of sherry. As the buildings where Joe lives in come up for being condemned, there is talk of moving him into an old people's hospital. Saddened by this development, Joe focuses all his energy on a forthcoming regimental reunion – he has been unable to attend for many years due to mobility problems, but Jenny has a plan.