Bath Times and Nursery Rhymes by Pam Weaver
|Bath Times and Nursery Rhymes by Pam Weaver|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: A heartwarming account of the life of a young nursery nurse in the 1960s|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: January 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
In 1961, a young 16 year old girl called Pam Weaver embarks on a career path that will change her life. Fed up with the tedium of working on the broken biscuit counter at Woolworths, she decides to train for her NNEB. Bath Times and Nursery Rhymes sees Pam progress from a shy and awkward teenager to a competent and caring nursery nurse. Reluctant to stay too long in any position, Pam tries her hand at a variety of jobs, including her initial employment in a Council-run children’s home, working as a private nanny to a rich young widow and an eventful but emotional stint in a premature baby ward.
At first glance, Bath Times and Nursery Rhymes appears to be a book of sweet and amusing anecdotes, as told by a childcare worker. Indeed, there are plenty of entertaining stories, and this is essentially a light-hearted read, but the book also contains powerful social commentary. At times, it is hard to believe that the alien world described so vividly in the book depicts standard childcare practice only a few decades ago. This is a domain where Matron is spelled G-O-D, children are forcibly removed from single mothers and pregnancy is a dirty word. As the book develops, the world around Pam begins to change. Childcare practices slowly become less rigid and regimental, attitudes about sex and marriage gradually alter and Britain becomes more multicultural. We see how these changes affect Pam, both on a personal level and in her work.
The book is a delight to read and Pam comes across as a genuine, warm and caring character. The nurses in the book developed a real attachment to the children that they worked with and would even spend some of their meagre wages on toys and gifts for their young charges, sometimes even taking them on short holidays. The stories that Pam tells are engaging and full of emotion, with both humour and heartbreak in equal measure. Sadly, both author and reader alike are left to guess at the eventual fate of the children in the book, as a child would leave the nursery at five years old and Pam would be allowed no further contact.
My only negative comment about the book is that I sometimes found the writing style a little difficult to follow. The book is written in a conversational way, just as if Pam were chatting to a dear friend, but this means that she does have an inclination to go off at a tangent without notice, with a tendency to stray from the main narrative. One particular example of this was a chapter where she suddenly started relating a tale about her father and how he decided to breed rabbits. It seemed completely out of context. Pam also has an annoying habit of slipping from a first person narrative into third person, which can also be quite confusing to the reader.
Bath Times and Nursery Rhymes is a charming, heart-warming account that gives a rich and vivid description of life in the 1960s. It is hard not to fall in love with the children in the book and I couldn’t help but think how fortunate they all were to have someone as caring as Pam Weaver in their lives.
For further insight on how Britain has changed over the decades, try Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties by Peter Hennessy.
You can read more book reviews or buy Bath Times and Nursery Rhymes by Pam Weaver at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Bath Times and Nursery Rhymes by Pam Weaver at Amazon.com.
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