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Open Features: A D-I-Y Marriage - Part 8

...So she had joined Executive Match, which had now thrown up Cyril Snaps. An odd-ball if ever there was one. A kind man, as far as she could judge, who may have left his search for a life partner a little late. Perhaps he spent all his time making money and had suddenly realised that there was (or should be) more to life than that...

Muriel is on her way to see Cyril's house.

Another episode of Brian Lockett's tale will appear in tomorrow's Open Writing.

At the beginning of her career Muriel enjoyed nursing. It was hard work, of course, she had expected that, the pay was poor and many of the doctors she worked with were arrogant and patronising. Much to her own surprise she quickly came to terms with the harsh realities of patient care. People died in hospital. One of her tasks was to see that if they had to die - and after a while she came to distinguish at an early stage between those who would and those who wouldn’t - they died with dignity and free from pain.

When she became theatre sister she moved upwards not only in status within the hospital but also in her own self-esteem. The younger surgeons got into the habit of glancing at her from time to time as they worked and were not averse to seeking her advice. Some of the older ones would jokingly say something like ‘If I could, Muriel, I’d hand all this over to you right now and get off to the golf course.’ And she would laugh in a self-deprecatory way. But she knew their confidence was not misplaced.

In her thirties, however, she stopped enjoying the life. The health service, she could see, was changing for the worst. The piles of paper never stopped growing. Statistics. Performance indicators. Management reviews. Business plans. How would Florence Nightingale have coped with all this?

She went to her colleagues’ engagement dinners, weddings - even divorce parties. But always felt on her own. There were relationships with men, of course, but she steered clear of hospital romances - they may work on television, she told herself, but, well, there’s something about the routine of a hospital and the realities of life there - new life, old life, disease, death - that interfered with loving and permanent relationships. ‘Relax’, she had been told more than once. ‘Don’t take everything so seriously. Let you hair down. And another thing - try to hide your superiority.’

So she had joined Executive Match, which had now thrown up Cyril Snaps. An odd-ball if ever there was one. A kind man, as far as she could judge, who may have left his search for a life partner a little late. Perhaps he spent all his time making money and had suddenly realised that there was (or should be) more to life than that.

She looked down from the top deck of the bus and spotted the tube sign West Hampstead. Well, seeing where he lived might help her make up her mind. She joined the queue at the top of the stairs.

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