Past Posts...

Frankie Goes to Holloway

The trouble with love is that it can cover a multitude of sins.

No doubt a number of the catholic priests who abuse little boys believe they have ‘love in their heart’. Those that do not have cynically used the love of the Mother Church to mask their obscene acts. Where better for those with sin in their heart to hide than under the cloak of the priesthood?

And as in priesthood, so in parenthood. Not all parents will have the best interests of their children at heart. Some will be misguided, others more sinister in their intent. And what better mask for such a parent than a plea of ‘love in the heart’?

Killing with ‘love in the heart’

Towards the end of Disney’s The Jungle Book, there is a climactic fight between the tiger Shere Khan, and Baloo the bear, who is protecting Mowgli from the tiger’s claws. The bear is no match for the tiger, and soon lies stricken on the jungle floor; only Mowgli’s use of man’s great secret, fire, causes the tiger to flee. But it is too late to save Baloo. A wise and consoling Bagheera comforts the grieving Mowgli, and sings a song of valedictory praise to Baloo’s greatness. Only, Baloo isn’t dead. Unlike Bagheera and Mowgli, we see the bear’s eyes open, and hear his mumbling delight at his own magnificence (“…he’s crackin’ me up…I wish my mother could’ve heard this…”). As the panther draws to a close, and he and Mowgli start to leave, Baloo suddenly looks up and calls out: “Hey! Don’t stop now Baggy, you’re doing great! There’s more - lots more!”

Assisted Suicide: Calling Spartacus

There’s nowt so queer as folk. We expect Scousers’ ‘mawkish sentimentality’; and the red-tops to bleed for mothers who kill ‘with love in their heart’. But what we do not expect – well Dr No did not expect – was a doctor going online with an account of how he too assisted suicide with a “secret gift to a dying friend’ and had ‘never for a moment regretted’ his actions.

Assisted Suicide and The Law

Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, looks a beefy sort of chap. He’s going to need to be, because he’s the one with his finger in the dyke.

Until last year, the law in England on homicide and suicide was clear. Homicide – the killing by one human being of another human being – is, except in a small number of clearly defined cases, a crime - murder (requires intent) or manslaughter. The related crime of attempted murder is just that – an attempt to murder. Killing oneself – suicide - was decriminalised by the Suicide Act 1961, although assisting – aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring - a suicide, remains a criminal act.

Withered on the Vine

Killing, it seems, is an idea whose time has come. Hot on the heels of the Inglis and Gilderdale cases, we have seen veritable death-fest. The celebrities have been wheeled out in force. Sir Terry Hatchett this morning called for suicide tribunals, and will tonight deliver his Richard Dimbleby Lecture ‘Shaking Hands with Death’ from – Dr No kids you not – The Royal College of Physicians. Only last week, Martin Amis – whose bad breath is said to be capable of assisting suicide at twenty paces – warned of a ‘silver tsunami’, and a need for euthanasia booths on every street corner.

Why Barton Didn’t Go for a Burton

The Barton case may well come to be remembered as the one in which the General Medical Council lit the fuse of its own destruction. But the fuse that has been lit is not the one that appears to have been lit.

Unlike the Gosport relatives of Barton’s victims, and the multitude of commentators on the web, and in the press, Dr No does not think that GMC stands for ‘Gross Medical Cover-up’. He does not think this is a simple case of a profession looking after its own.

Sure, there are doctors involved. But this is not about doctors protecting doctors. It is something infinitely more troubling. It is The Establishment looking after The Establishment.

The XX Factor

Were it not for the genuinely sad nature of the case, the last few hours of Lynn Gilderdale’s life could almost have about it the air of a grotesque Benny Hill sketch. In a surreal speeded up video, complete with that memorable theme tune, one might see Kay Gilderdale rushing around their home, searching out pills and potions, furious grinding in pestle and mortar, frantic googling, over-size syringes full of air…

…and all in very bad taste, Dr No fully agrees. But sometimes he wonders whether it isn’t necessary to look a little harder at the current wave of mother-love hysteria that has risen on the back of the Inglis and Gilderdale trials for murder and attempted murder of their respective children.

Transactional Euthanasia

Thomas Harris, in his popular account of transactional analysis ‘I’m OK–You’re OK’, describes a toxic life position known as ‘I’m OK–You’re not OK’. How long, Dr No wonders, will it be before the current spate of ‘mercy’ killings mutate via ‘I’m not OK–You’re not OK’ to ‘I’m not OK–You’re Dead’ and then ‘I’m OK–You’re Dead’?

Make no mistake, Dr No has every sympathy with mothers like Frances Inglis, and the appalling predicament they find themselves in. But he also sees creep at work. And creep is nasty, sinister, very sinister…

The Rhett Butler Moment

Dr No has a close non-medical friend – a salesman - who is forever trying to sell Dr No the idea that medicine is really just like any other job. All that special pleading, all that vocation nonsense, is so much hot air, he says. Other jobs have just the same stresses and rewards. Medics have no ‘special case’.

Dr No begs to differ. Dr No suspects that most doctors have an affair with medicine, and that that adds an intensity to the relationship that most jobs lack. He is not convinced that those who sell stationery for a living – as his friend does – have affairs with selling, let alone selling stationery. If they do, then there must be an eroticism to ring binders that has quite passed Dr No by.

Going for a Barton

Language, they tell us on Radio 4’s ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’ is constantly evolving. If Clue should ever find itself down Gosport-way, it would find that ‘Going for a Burton’ - the WW2 euphemism for taking a shufti – has evolved into ‘Going for a Barton’ – meaning admission to the town’s War Memorial Hospital, and subsequent death while under the care of the visiting Diamorphine Queen, Dr Jane Barton.

The ongoing story of the Diamorphine Queen has been well covered by Rita Pal and others, including affected relatives. At its heart, it is one of a unfettered doctor initiating a zealous programme of ‘anticipatory prescribing’ of opiates and other powerful sedatives to patients, whether they needed the drugs or not. The disinhibitory effect of this cavalier prescribing led inexorably to unnecessary deaths. No one knows for certain how many, but the figure runs to tens of not hundreds of affected patients.