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Shout out to Mrs Alf Wight - light hearted(9 Posts)
Last night I watched an episode of Yorkshire Vet. They were revisiting the life of Alf Wight aka James Herriot, with contributions from his son (James) and daughter (Rosemary).
As they walked into the original house and practice, which is now a museum, and admired the attractive tiles in the hallway, James reminisced how his mother had to mop the floor multiple times a day, due to all the farmers in muddy wellingtons trooping in.
I realised how little I had ever heard about Mrs Alf Wight aka Joan Danbury.
I loved the books, and the TV shows. Obviously they were people of their time, living life the way most other couples lived their lives at that time and by all accounts Alf was a very kind and popular man, and I don't suggest that Joan was in anyway unhappy with her lot.
But still, thinking of her mopping the hall floor endlessly...
Alf got to do his work, drive off to visit the farms, chat with his clients, write his books.
Meanwhile Joan must have been literally keeping the home fires burning, making sure there was always food at the ready for a quick meal before heading out on a visit, raising the children. Don't let's forget, nappies in those days were soaked boiled, put through the mangle and dried.
One of my earliest memories is of helping my mother with the mangle, all the other washing must have been done that way too.
What other jobs did she take on I wonder, in the days before practice managers and veterinary nurses?
I'll hazard a guess there were practice rooms to clean, pharmaceutical supplies to order, bandages would have been washed and dried (washing, drying and IRONING bandages are listed as one of the nursing duties in some of the historical photos dotted around my hospital). Newly delivered puppies were probably nursed next to the aga in the kitchen.
If Alf had remained a bachelor, apart from child rearing, someone would have had to be employed to provide all sorts of housekeeping and practice support work.
Whilst of course the focus of the program I watched was the life of Alf Wight, the vet, still, his wife was only mentioned twice as far as I can recall, once mopping the hallway endlessly and once encouraging Alf to write his memoirs.
So a shout out for Joan Danbury, who married Alf and oiled the wheels of his happy life and successful career. for Joan, and all the other Joans.
She gets lots of lovely mentions/stories in the books, the story of their first kiss is extremely romantic (followed by a house visit for a whelping). She sounded like a wonderful woman and I believe they died within a couple of years of each other after a long, happy marriage.
My daughter went to world book day as her
Yes, "Helen" is featured heavily in the books, including a lot of the work she has to do both for "James" and for her Father.
Helen is featured a lot in the books.
I always thought she sounded attractive, capable and possessed of a good sense of humor.
Helen was one of my heroes growing up. He wrote her with such warmth.
Oh it's a long time since I read the books. I just thought of her endlessly mopping the hall floor...
I'm sure they had a very happy marriage though.
You should read them again, they're a delight.
She's the heroine of his books!
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