Day 2. Having a theatre trip planned for the evening, it didn’t matter that we stayed in all morning while rain fell steadily. After lunch we took the tube to Westminster, crossed over the bridge in blustery wind heading for St. Thomas’s Hospital. No one was ill, but the Florence Nightingale Museum is located in a southern corner of the campus. Tickets can be booked online. There was a temporary exhibition about the Spanish ‘flu which promised to be interesting. There was plenty to see and plenty to learn about this formidable lady who refused to be confined to the norms of her day. She felt God’s call on her life to be a nurse and despite objections from her wealthy family and all around her she relentlessly pursued that calling. A bench was engraved with these words. “On February 7th 1837 God spoke to me and called me to His Service”. She found fame during the Crimea War where injured men were evacuated south to the town of Scutari. Florence organised the hospital there and put in measures to restrict the spread of disease. Men were washed on arrival, given clean hospital clothes and put into beds with clean sheets. Florence campaigned for better conditions and used her love of statistics to produce easy-to-understand graphs and diagrams that illustrated the unhealthiest times of the year. Mary Seacole also helped injured men with plant based remedies, such as using ginger to treat diarrhoea and cinnamon as an antiseptic, that she had learnt about in the West Indies.
The exhibition about the ‘Spanish ‘flu’ was a bit too visual in that it reconstructed a temporary hospital ward with a couple of beds. The origin of the illness is still being debated. It was reported in Spain as Spanish newspapers were not censored.
St. Thomas’s hospital large foyer contained a café, a clothes shop and a Marks and Spencers! We ate our packed meal in a dining area for patients and staff while we bridged the gap between our afternoon and evening activity.
We were off to see a play! The old council chamber of London’s County Hall is now used as a theatre. We were going to be members of the audience at a trial. Twelve ticket holders would even get to play the part of jury members.
The stage was a cleverly constructed platform in the centre that also became a front room, the court and the scene of an execution. Agatha Christie wrote many thrillers that lead the reader up the garden path – this was no exception. ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ is not a title that grabs at you, but the play was certainly a thriller with typical Christie twists and turns.
I was impressed by the marble sinks in the toilets but at least the taps were not gold plated!