On the whole I am inclined to pronounce the pudding-basin a more obdurate utensil than even the dinner-tin. The pudding-basin, however, only appeared every second morning. On duff days (duff being served in the same tin as the meat and vegetables, though in a separate compartment) we had no pudding. By pudding I mean milk pudding—rice or sago or tapioca. Now a milk pudding, such as those my patients received, though perhaps it was looked askance at in the nursery, is food which, as an adult, I am far from despising. Rice pudding I have come with maturer years to regard as a delicacy. Sago and tapioca I still eat rather with amiable resignation than from choice. But any milk pudding, as I now know, has a most vicious habit of cleaving to the dish in which it was cooked. Rice is the least evil offender. The others are absolutely wicked. To clean oleaginous scum from a dinner-tin is not easy, but it is a mere bagatelle compared with cleaning the scorched high-tide-mark of tapioca or sago from the shores of a large metal pudding-basin. I have tried scraping with a knife blade, I have tried every reasonable form of friction, and I can simply state as a fact from my own personal experience (perhaps I am unfortunate) that those metal pudding-basins of ours would frequently yield to nothing less powerful than sandpaper.
I need scarcely say that sandpaper was not supplied by the deities of the Dry Store. Sandpaper did not come within their purview. It had no recognised use in hospital. Therefore it did not exist. But, observing that a succession of metal pudding-basins would be an insupportable prospect without sandpaper, I laid in a stock of sandpaper, paying for the same out of my own private purse. It was a cheap investment. Never have earnings of mine been better spent. Moreover, having once hit on the notion of giving myself a lift illegitimately, so to speak, I added to the smuggling-in of sandpaper a secret purchase of soda. Except that our scrub-ladies, each and all, discovering that the Dry Store’s allowance of this priceless chemical had at last apparently been generous, caused it to fly at a disconcerting pace, and as a result sometimes left me short of it, my career as a washer-up afterwards became more comfortable.