Joe Hughes reflects on Avril's time at St Francis.....
The hullaballo in the nurses home was papable. The news ran around the place faster than the speed of light! 'There's a fabulous new female nurse in the new nurses home, just over from Ireland! Have you seen her?' Well, of course, none of us had - except maybe for David Grieve!
At that time the new nurses home was the bit at the back which had been added on to the male nurses home and the door between was locked! Being the upright citizens that we were we would not be seen to be gawping through the glass door to view any lovellies on the other side but David Grieve tells me that he increased his journeys immeasurably to the nurses canteen during that period (The door was at the bottom of the steps which led to the diningroom)!
Well, eventually we caught sight of her. For me the occasion was when she was returning from duty in her beautifully starched and tailored nurses uniform. What a delightful sight. She was a lovely girl. We then heard her play the guitar and sing and there was no doubt in our minds that she could have had a career in that direction also.
Two stories come to mind involving me and Avril. I was ill with flu and , as was the custom then, you had to go to the male sick bay in the Villa where the villa staff would keep a check on you and give you your meals. Lo and behold who was on the female side also ill with flu but the beautiful Avril. Her television set was broken and so I suggested she might join me in the male nurses bay and use mine which she did. So there we were perched up , in seperate beds throughout, enjoying the wonders of terrestial TV! At that time Larry O'Dea was dating Avril and he also happened to be the staff nurse on Fletching. I wasn't particularly aware of this but the connection quickly dawned on me when Larry, on duty, was the nurse who brought us our evening meal. He entered the door of the male bay with the tray in front of him and saw the two of us in seperate beds! The look of shock on his face was worth a £1million! Larry, never one for keeping the rules, told us this wasn't on and so Avril returned to the female bay with Larry being very conscientious to maintain the status quo on that occasion!
The second occasion eventually involved Avril in the Social Club. During my short excessive drinking career with Eugene Toner , who later so tragically lost his life in a road traffic incident, we used to go to the Club in our white shirts and dark trousers and drink Stella with Asbach brandy chasers! Oh! My goodness - can you imagine that? Whenever we'd order the brandy chaser, the barman would smirk with disdain at the brandy which he regarded as a cooking brandy! I liked Asbach - it was mild to the taste.
Years after she became Penthouse pet of 1974, Avril returned to the Club with Jimmy Huff. I was in the Club that night and sat and chatted to her at the bar. Later as she was about to leave she asked the barman for a bottle of Asbach brandy to take away! He happily fetched the bottle and delivered it to Avril with a broad happy smile on his face until I reminded Avril of how he used to serve us this 'cheap' brandy. 'Shut up Hughes,' says the barman with a twinkle in his eye. I said goodnight to Avril and haven't seen nor heard of her since.
Where are you Avril? Do get in touch if only for David Grieve's sake who loves you so much he has kept that 1974 issue of Penthouse - now well thumbed - under his pillow each night ! Now we know where that single, nurses home copy went to!