Monday, 10 September 2012

NORMA WILLIAMS

             I was first employed in the NHS at its inception in 1948 as a laboratory Technician to Dr. R.T. Grant  F.R.S.  He was a senior MRC Research Scientist (who together with T.S. Lewis in 1928 had described the wheal and flare " triple response").  My job was to inject various experimental substances into the main ear vein of rabbits for his  experiments on the control of the peripheral circulation of man and animals.   One day he asked me what  I wanted to do when he retired (which turned out to be only a few days later).   I replied that I would really like to do medicine so he went straight to see "Charlie" Boland.   When he came back he said "You start 1st. M.B. in October!"

             Quite early in my training I married J.P.G.Williams who subsequently had a high profile as an internationally known scientist.   My change in marital status seemed to upset Mr Wallis (in the medical school office) a great deal, who told me I was making "a very bad move for my future career" but this probably only served to make me work harder.   

As a clinical student I remember taking great care working up a case to present to Keith Simpson at post mortem only to have him cut me short mid sentence saying "Come along young lady, you are never going to make the "News of The World" at this rate."  

I was very short of money as a student and often felt hungry.  I did have two Guardian Angels.  Tim Spencer, through a clergyman friend of the family, arranged for me to have some free lunches at Southwark Cathedral and Prof Hunt was also concerned about how thin I was, took me for occasional lunches at "the George" where he would discretely pass his share of the potatoes onto my plate.  He was also helpful to my husband who at that stage of his career was earning very little.

After qualifying, my career was in even more turmoil because the research group to which my husband was attached was being transferred to the USA.  We travelled on the Queen Mary to New York taking our young son Pete with us with my little sister to look after him and and I then started out to try to get a job as an intern.   This proved to be virtually impossible since Buffalo N.Y. was not yet prepared for women in Medicine.  Eventually I met the wife of a Professor of Allergy and Immunology who persuaded her husband to give me a chance.   After a while my husband work moved to Texas and so on.

Overall the majority of my work has been as a medical gynaecologist in Texas, New York, Ohio, Harley Street (21)years, Nepal and China.   At one time I had the position of Gynaecologist to the American Navy working at the American Embassy in London.  Like Chekhov I have found that true life is so extraordinary that I am not very interested in reading novels which by comparison are rather mundane!  

I was happily married to Pat for 53yrs and have now been a widow for 7.   I spend  much time with my children and grandchildren.   I live on the 24th floor of an apartment block on Brighton Beach overlooking the ocean.   I still work, but now as a poetry editor, and flower photographer.

 I am very much looking forward to seeing you all at the Reunion.              Norma Williams.




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