Friday 26 February 2016

Task 44: Replicate my ‘night-shift nurse on a rocking horse’ photo

OK, let's make it quite clear from the outset that this task was not my idea - step forward and own up Michael Hunot! Although to be fair, I only have myself to blame for having created this most golden of opportunities for ridicule (again) by one of my offspring.

Forty years ago I was a carefree second year student nurse on night-duty in casualty.  It was 2 o'clock in the morning. Our usual cluster of street drinkers were sleeping off their excesses on mattresses (those were the days), the waiting room was empty and the crash room had dealt with its latest crisis. We were all a bit bored. I happened to have my camera with me. Our staff nurse, an outrageously camp and lovely man, decided it was time for an A&E photo-shoot.  He took charge of my camera and after snapping the night sister napping in an armchair and my fellow trainee Elaine mopping up the final pool of vomit, he decided it was time for me to strike a pose on the rocking horse in the children's play area.  'Come on Viv, throw that head back, show a bit more leg!' he called out, his hand poised ready to click the button on my Olympus Trip 35.  The rest as they say.....

For twenty years the night nurse photo lay in a drawer gathering dust. Then my 40th birthday loomed and Andrew started plotting. At my birthday party dinner, he produced a clutch of pens and some sheets of A4 paper containing a photo. No prizes for guessing which photo it was.....' We're going to have a caption competition!' he announced. After much ribaldry and head-scratching, our guests came up with some inspired and/or saucy suggestions. My friend Gillie won the day (she may well be relieved to hear that we haven't been able to locate her actual words) and had the unfortunate honour of being given a tee-shirt with the night nurse photo emblazoned on the front.

Roll on another twenty years and I made the mistake of asking Michael whether he'd like to propose a task for my sixtyat60 list.  He didn't hesitate for an instant. 'You've got to replicate that nurse on a rocking horse photo Mum' he said.  The gauntlet was thrown down. Task 44 was born.

The first challenge was to find a rocking horse of the design and also the strength (very important that) of the original. Andrew and I sourced one purely by chance. We were invited to a pre-Christmas gathering at the home of our friends Chris and Anne. We walked into their sitting room, did a double take and pretty much ignoring every guest around us, turned to one another and in unison went  'ROCKING HORSE!!'  Yes indeed, there in all its glory was a hand-crafted and solidly made horse of the same design as the A&E original, if considerably more beautiful and well-cared for. And even better, Chris and Anne were willing to let it play a leading role in Task 44. 

The next step was to track down a 70s nurses' uniform akin to the one I wore in my student nurse days. This proved to be quite a challenge, involving endless google searches that mostly led me to websites full of skimpy naughty nurse costumes. But eventually I managed to cobble together an outfit resembling that 2am-scruffy-student-nurse-in-a-cardigan look. And I did at least manage to lay my hands on my student nurse badge.

Last Friday my nursey moment finally arrived. I put on my freshly pressed (but sadly not starched) uniform and instantly felt very guilty for wearing my apron outside the ward environment (an absolute no-no in my day). We drove over to Chris and Anne's house where I tied back my hair and pinned on my hat, whilst the others did some crucial scene-setting (note below the lovingly re-created warning notice stuck on the wall).  Then I positioned myself very carefully on the horse, smiled as best I could given the situation, pulled back my skirt a few iPad clicks later, Task 51 was in the can.   

Here's the film crew recovering from the experience (Anne definitely looks much more fetching on the horse than I do). 

So that's my 38th task now completed. I'm truly grateful to Chris and Anne for loaning us their fabulous horse and house for Task 44 and for remaining so incredibly relaxed and non-judgemental throughout the whole somewhat surreal process. And Michael's verdict on the replicated photo? I received a text from him earlier today which said, 'If you hadn't have explained it already, I'd have had to ask which was the original!' Although he'd inserted an emoticon wearing a halo, which could well suggest that he's attempting to curry favour with me. Well, it's worked Michael!

One final thought -  if by any chance Lucy's tempted to do a thirty at 30 challenge, how about replicating this photo as one of your tasks Lucy....?

I'm doing the sixtyat60challenge to raise funds for Shooting Star Chase children's hospice care in memory of a gorgeous little girl called Thea Redford. 

For further information or to make a donation please visit my JustGiving page at

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