‘I’m delighted to inform you that the mission to prevent Florence Nightingale from becoming known instead as The Lady With The Clamp has been an unqualified success.’ This one line statement was read to a packed news conference here in New York City this morning by the author of this short but welcome piece History Maintenance Commission CEO Professor Delphi. Sporting a broad smile he admitted that speed king Donald Campbell had pulled off a sensational conclusion to his hologram’s mission to return to 1844 and persuade the woman we know as the mother of modern nursing to divert from the path of vehicle parking management and return to the Florence Nightingale we all know and respectfully admire. ‘After we received his previous report we seriously contemplated aborting the mission and filing it as a failure along with those others involving Peter Brough and Archie Andrews and Harry Houdini, so the turnaround in this next, and final communique we received from him was as dramatic as when Ian Botham turned the 1981 Ashes series v Australia on its head. The mood here at the HMC offices has gone from crestfallen to ebullient.’
However, the CEO will not let the commission rest on its laurels, writes Hector South, of the Hysterical News Agency, ‘Now we have successfully re-engaged Nightingale in the realm of public health reforms and the modernisation of nursing, we can set our sights upon other pressing historical conundrums and seek to correct them with the resources now freed up by the triumph of the post war speed ace’s hologram, Donald Campbell. Here follows Donald Campbell’s final report from 1844 Hampshire, England:
6th Report Received From Donald Campbell
As I still had a fair bit of time left on the meter, i decided to return a month later in 1844 to Florence in my Bluebird-Proteus CN7 and make a very quick exit if she gave me one of her perishing looks. I found her in the village where she had borrowed the whippet. It was night and she was walking the main street with just her lamp for company. I was right to exhibit caution, she wanted me to turn tail and disappear pretty sharpish. But, astonishingly, not for the reasons I had thought.
‘Away with you,’ she said with a wave of her immaculately clean white gloved hands. ‘Have you not brought enough trouble to the doorsteps of these good people as well as my own?’ She purposefully extinguished her lamp so as to veil our encounter in darkness.
It emerged that The News of the World reporters had descended upon sleepy Hampshire and had written a bombshell of an article on the deluded villagers and their observations of fire-farting dragons that travel at breakneck speed on land and water and seem to exist on a diet of lean dogs that they chase but don’t consume. The slant of the story centred on the assumption that the villagers had been hallucinating on woodland fungi.
The Government intervened by quarantining the area to stop this hysteria spreading to adjacent hamlets until such a time as the malaise had passed. Florence Nightingale felt it incumbent upon her to nurse the afflicted until the restrictions were lifted as she felt responsible for their predicament having roped them in. I knew something of what it was like to have your mind not function to the maker’s specifications. At Utah, on the Salt Flats, an accident was waiting to happen. There was no sense of fear whatsoever, or reality, for that matter. It was basically caused by oxygen poisoning. Then came the frightful crash. Thankfully, I came out of it alive in more than a hundred years from now. I don’t want to experience that again, believe me.
‘The wheel-clamping is on hold for a while, I assume?’ I ventured to say.
‘Hush! she replied, looking carefully about her to ensure nobody else was watching. ‘I will not be able to pursue vehicle clamping at all from this juncture onwards. The authorities wish to brush this mess you’ve caused under the carpet. I’ve been ordered, once the conclusion of this honourable vigil is at an end, never to mention it or allude to it ever again. If I were to pursue a vocation in wheel-clamping that would unequivocally provide an allusion to the state of quarantine prevalent here at present, where everyone is ensnared. I shall have to adopt nursing as my calling and insist that when I visit the Lutherans at Kaiserswerth that that is my introduction to treating the sick and deprived. This episode in this village has to remain part of a closed book.’
I was gestured away in uncompromising fashion with a brush of her hands like I was dirt set upon sullying them. The lady relit her lamp and resumed her rounds. I was able to appreciate irony when it slipped into gear. Florence Nightingale would now, thanks to the efforts of Team Bluebird, make her name treating wounded British soldiers in the Crimean War. Victims of the Ruskies. But really, I had set her on the path with her good old lamp a decade earlier, treating the Rustics!
Mission successful. It goes to show, quite frankly, that when the British make their minds up they can overcome all obstacles and achieve anything.
The History Maintenance Commission have since discovered these new excerpts from the writings of Florence Nightingale that have only just appeared. They seem to make reference to Donald Campbell:
‘Rather ten times die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore.’ Cassandra (1852) * This appears to refer to Campbell’s death at Lake Coniston on January 4, 1967 and his contempt for his knockers.
‘It was an affair of the most critical importance to accomplish the journey in the least possible space of time.’ Letter to Hilary Bonham Carter (1845). * Pretty obvious where her drive for speed had emanated from.
‘When shall we see a life full of steady enthusiasm, walking straight to its aim, flying home, as that bird is now, against the wind,’ Cassandra (1852). *Nightingale makes allusion here to the impressive Bluebird machines and the bad luck they will attract in order to break records. Here citing the facing wind being against an attempt.
‘For do we ever utilize this heroism? Look how it lives upon itself and perished for lack of food.’ Cassandra (1852). *A clever reference here to Campbell’s critics and how, unlike his father, Donald never received a knighthood. The mention of ‘lack of food’ clearly remarks upon how Campbell perished on his second run at Lake Coniston having chosen not to refuel, as was the norm, between the attempts.
Categories: Florence Nightingale