Other Memories

Memories of Mervyn Upton

28th August, 1930 ~ 29th November, 2012


Where were you when…

1963 – Friday 22nd January:

I was in my first term at Glenfrome Primary School. My class was probably the best I taught there. It included three who have maintained contact – Pamela Bush, Pauline Harris and Angle Pullin.

On that day, 8 girls and 4 boys had full marks in the weekly spelling test and 3 girls and 1 boy were 100% in the arithmetic test (Pamela and Pauline achieved this standard in both tests, Angela was absent).

As customary, I walked through Eastville Park on the way home. My tea was usual for a Friday – pie and chips. I left home at about 7pm to assist Dave Elsbury and Frank New to run Eastville Park Methodist Youth Club. As usual, Frank was the last of us to arrive. I was standing by the table in the Fellowship Room when he entered. His face revealed something was wrong. He told us Kennedy had been killed and went on to inform us that

J F Kennedy, President of the USA, had been shot in Huston , Texas.

1969 – Wednesday 31st December:

It was cold, bitterly cold with an East wind and temperatures below freezing. The Western Counties (Gloucestershire and Somerset) were playing the visiting South Africans. It was a difficult tour, the team was weaker than expected and the anti-apartheid movement caused trouble throughout the four Home Counties.

I had obtained tickets for the match for Janet and me and it was arranged to meet with members of the Old Cothamians RFC at the Memorial Ground.

Janet came to lunch, suitably clad in several woollies, a woolly hat and her brown sheepskin coat. Mother provided a pair of Father’s long underpants (long-johns). The Springboks were staying at The Unicorn Hotel (later Jury’s Hotel and Bristol Hotel), Princes Street. At 2.30am demonstrators set off the fire alarms. At the ground 550 police were on duty. We had to show our tickets to enter Alton Road and police controlled entrance gates. We encountered a group of Old Cothamian RFC members and Janet was placed in the centre of the group, guarded by 30 or so stalwarts. Police were situated every few yards around the pitch perimeter with special groups, wearing football boots, situated at each corner.

The first half was scrappy with very cold hands often failing to hold passes. Morris kicked a penalty so the Counties led 3-0 at half time. Suddenly a demonstrator scaled the barrier and ran into the centre of the field scattering drawing pins. The crowd shouted “stop him” but initially the police were slow to react. At last, one of the runners reached him and he was flattened by a tackle that would have been illegal during the game. Fortunately for him, the South Africans were not first to reach him.

The second half was delayed as both teams and officials attempted to pick up the drawing pins (later, a magnet dragged across the turf picked up more than 200). The second half was similar to the first one with the South African play improving. At last, Bedford scored a try in the corner so the game ended 3-3 – a fair result. Then we could walk to 336 and warmth!

2001 – Tuesday 11th September:

We were holidaying in St Peter Port, Guernsey, staying at our favourite flat – Flat 2, La Retraite Lodge. The weather was sunny and warm so we caught a bus that took us across to Grandes Rocques. While Janet was enjoying a cup of tea at the beach café, I strolled out to obtain photographs. We then walked northwards to Le Grand Harve. This part of the island is flat and contains a number of small sandy bays such as Port Soif and Portinfer. Overlooking and guarding Le Grand Harve is the Rousse Tower, one of the many Martello Towers built to defend Guernsey’s coast during the Napoleonic Wars. This one has been restored and contains suitably clad figures. Then we visited The Houmet Tavern, one of our favourite restaurants, for fish and chips. After lunch we continued our walk northwards to St Michael’s Church, Vale – a fine building containing good Norman work. Outside it, in its grounds, is a Neolithic tomb. Originally this part of Guernsey was a separate island. It was joined to the major portion in 1805. Then we walked across L’Ancresse Common to L’Ancresse Bay, stopping to examine Les Fouaillages, a Neolithic passage grave and one of Europe’s oldest stone monuments (c5,000). After refreshment at one of the bay’s cafes, we walked to the main road to catch the bus to St Peter Port. It was full and I had to stand for the whole journey. At St Peter Port, Janet decided to do some shopping and I returned to the flat. It was about 17.00. It was then that I heard of the day’s events in the USA. Two airliners had crashed into the Twin Towers, completely destroying them, one airliner had crashed into The Pentagon and one was missing. All had been hijacked. When Janet returned she was equally surprised as she had heard nothing of the event in St Peter Port shops. After evening meal, we went for a walk to the harbour. Here we encountered a woman who was enjoying a daytrip by ship to the island. We imparted the news to her and then we walked back to town where she was meeting a friend. He was not convinced with our story and told his friend ‘It’s not true – these people are deceiving you – it’s all lies.’

Frenchay Hospital

At about 16.45 on Thursday 15th December, 2011, when at home, I fainted and fractured several left-side ribs. I was taken to Frenchay Hospital and spent the next 6 weeks, until Thursday 27th January, 2012, in Ward 15.

The staff proved to be excellent, professional, caring and friendly. Names of nursing staff remembered are ~ Sister, Debbie, Carol, Vicky, Karen, Sally, Jane, Louise, Michelle, Lisa, Sam (from Nepal) and Dicky (from Tibet) plus others with names unknown or forgotten. Students ~ April, Abbey, Zoe. The domestic staff also require a very favourable mention. Medical staff include ~ Dr J Ho, Dr C Patel, Ruth, Justin, Laura (Junior Doctors).

Mention should also be made of the small Welsh lady pharmacists and the lady church visitor with whom I had two pleasant long talks.


‘Toe Nibbling’: Shouts in the middle of the night from ‘C ‘(aged 94). Nurse discovered another patient at the foot of his bed sitting on a chair. With colleague, she returned him to his bed. ‘C’ then stated that his toes had been nibbled!

‘Committee Meetings’: ‘D’ held committee meetings when he loudly made speeches with unconnected sentences that were often uncompleted. These occurrences could take place day or night.

‘The Zombie’: He walked up and down the ward, regardless of others. One Sunday morning he removed most of his hair with an electric razor but leaving patches of hair at the rear. These were removed by his girlfriend. One night he scared the staff by pretending to harm himself. Later he walked out with his bags and was returned by Security staff. The process then repeated twice.

He removed a cannula from his arm and walked down the ward dripping blood. The cleaner firmly said it was not her duty to mop it up so the task was done by Sister.

Finally he removed a metal bar from a blood transfusion stand. With this in one hand and a spray in the other, he walked down the ward, threatening the staff, and into the corridor. He was eventually returned to a bed at the far end of the ward from me. There was then the constant presence of security.

‘Mr Moo’: A regular, loud shouter for help, making requests to anyone who passed his bed. He refused pain-killing drugs and, shortly afterwards, complained (loudly) of pain. After meals he made loud mooing noises. Often, requests were made for an ambulance to take him to hospital. At last one arrived to take him to Southmead.

‘Mr Moo’s 999’: He left his bed at regular intervals to walk down the ward or into the store area at the end of the ward. One afternoon he walked down the ward and into the bed of another patient. One evening, when giving him his tablets, a nurse was accused of attempting to poison him. There was much fuss and noise. He demanded to phone 999. Instead, his son was contacted and shortly afterwards he arrived to calm his father.

‘C’: He was 94 and a veteran of the Dunkirk Evacuation. Although deaf and speaking with a loud voice, he was still mentally active. He is president of the Eastville Social Club. Many members visited him including his ‘girlfriend’ of 20 years. He was delighted when his daughter and family members arrived from Australia.

Friends brought ‘C’ two bottles of spirits and gave him tots when they visited. A nurse discovered the bottles and locked them in the medicine cupboard.

‘MS’: He was a sad figure when he arrived in the ward, not knowing where he was. Memory largely returned and he proved to be an excellent neighbour. Despite being half my age we became very good friends. As confidence returned, he often assisted other patients. Many were the jokes we exchanged with the nursing staff. To them he was a very popular patient.

‘The Prisoner’: an elderly patient arrived one evening accompanied by a man in uniform. The old man was a prisoner at Leyhill Prison and it appears he had murdered his wife. As he had great difficulty in walking, escape appeared to be very unlikely. ‘M’ enjoyed chats about football with the prison officers.

Unusual Discoveries:

  1. Nurses had to pay parking fees at Frenchay. The money was extracted from their monthly salary.

  2. Doctors were not permitted to wear wrist watches – fear of infection. All seemed to wear short sleeves.