the east end

jenniferworth1yesterday i spent a few hours watching the third season of “call the midwife”, the bbc series based on the memoirs of jennifer worth, a midwife in the east end of london after the war. in the early 1950s she became a staff nurse at the london hospital in whitechapel, east london. there she lived with an anglican community of nuns, the sisters of st john the divine, who worked among the poor in the east end. the book does for midwives what james herriot did for vets. “i read this article in the midwives journal in 1998, which pointed out that there was virtually nothing about midwives in literature – a couple of mentions in chekhov, but virtually nothing else, and none of it treated midwives as people,” she explains. “the last line in the article said, what we need is someone like james herriot.” worth took that idea to heart and began writing her trilogy. though i have yet to read the trilogy, the series has transported me to simpler, albeit extremely difficult, times. the east end of london was a very poor area and the nuns and midwives of nonnatus house had many charges and were on call every hour of every day. even so, they appreciated their lives and what they had and made the best of each and every moment of their lives. that’s what i aspire to, what i yearn for. simplicity and the ability to focus on the good and not yearn for what has gone or what will never be.

if you haven’t seen the series, or read the books, i encourage you to do so.


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