Posts tagged with Miscellaneous

The Chauffeur Must Decide

In Downton Abbey (ITV1), a good many scenettes – most are too brief to be scenes - are set up to climax with the wonderful Maggie Smith delivering a punch line. She has perfected the art of delivering these dénouementettes, which she does with a little shudder, as if a Tantric feather had tickled her G-spot. Last night she delivered a perfect corker: the decision lies with the chauffeur. In just six words, she encompassed a hundred years of medical and social history.

The dramatic tension at the heart of last night’s episode was the ancient clash between the GP and the specialist. It was as high concept as high stakes go: the life of a young mother was at stake. From the early moment a throwaway mention was made of swollen ankles, a pall-bearer of toxaemia, or pre-eclampsia, the obstetrician in Dr No knew it was going to end in tears. Fits would follow, and death was indisputably on the cards. The only question was how Julian Fellowes would deliver not the baby, but the eclampsia.


One of the more noisome phrases in the air today is ‘one should not speak ill of the dead’. The sentiment, both spoken and unspoken, is everywhere, and the dead we should not speak ill of is of course Mrs Hacksaw, the Iron Lady who famously decreed and then ensured ‘there is no such thing as society’. But we shall not speak ill of the dead. Labour leaders stand as pupils before Miss Jean Brodie, the better not to speak ill of the dead. In the Today coven, Humph and Jimbo cackle away at each other, reminiscing about conviction politicians. No, we shall not speak ill of the dead, oh no. April is the cruellest month. Mistress Thatch – she dead! wail the hollow men, heads filled with deathiquette. De mortuis nihil nisi bonum. And yet, between the desire and the spasm, between the potency and the existence, between the essence and the descent, falls the shadow. But we shall not speak of the shadow, oh no: de mortuis nihil nisi bonum.

Humph Flumphs Again

The Today programme’s resident grumpy old bull, John Humphrys, took a charge at Prime Minister David Cameron this morning, and ended up with his horns stuck in wood, and his tail between his legs. Cameron, in excellent patroniser-in-chief form, ordered Humph back to school. Humph, unable to extract his horns from the wood, acceded. “I will go back to school,” he said, adding petulantly as only Humph could, “and I will choose my teacher”.

Dr No has for some time been bemused by the media coverage of the Alternative Vote (AV) referendum, and, less bemusingly, by the public’s apparent lack of grasp of what is, all said and done, not a difficult a concept to grasp. Certainly, the jargon does nothing to help: ‘First Past the Post’ is nothing of the sort – there is no post, just a brutish my-pile-of-votes-is-bigger-than-yours battle, while the ‘Alternative Vote’ is a first past the post race – the post being 50% of cast votes; but the procedure, serial elimination of the candidate with the least votes, and allocation of those voters’ successive choices until one candidate passes the 50% post, is comprehensible. Or at least should be comprehensible – unless, that is, one is, as Cameron described Humph this morning, the BBC’s ‘lead broadcaster’, a remark which on paper gains the added thrill of plumbic insult.

Full Tank of Gas

Unbeknownst, presumably, to today’s Tory sound bite chefs, in Dr No’s youth to be full of gas had other meanings: to be full of wind, puff or bombast. These earlier meanings recurred in Dr No’s mind over the weekend, as the BBC’s news zombies trotted out Dave’s full tank of gas sound bite time and again. Presumably, like Camilla’s use of wicked, gas is meant to sound groovy. LOL! Where, Dr No wondered, was Little Nellie when you needed her? Dr No’s earlier scheme to pour sugar in Dave’s petrol rapidly gave way to an overwhelming wish to drop a match in the tank.

A Short Life and A Sorry One

Stilton, the Chief Pongo at the General Medical Council, is pleased. In 2010, his Gestapo took on more cases, and spiked more doctors than ever before. His network of field spies, the Herr Medical Directors soon to be mantled Responsible Officers, are reporting ever greater numbers of medical dissidents to GMC-HQ. Only two years ago, a mass spiking event took place, with the introduction of medical licences to practice. But that mass spike will pale into trivial insignificance next year, when the greatest spike-fest of them all starts. Revalidation is, as they say in managerial and political circles, due to be rolled out, in 2012. Those doctors who manage to escape acute spiking will be rolled over repeatedly by the heavy steam-roller of revalidation. Doctors, once real life and 3D, will find themselves flattened two dimensional cartoon characters, with not even a shadow of their former selves left to relieve the barren new landscape of 360 degree multi-source blowback. Small wonder, then, that Stilton is so pleased.

The Doctor and Dr No

Sometimes Dr No has wacky ideas. One of his favourites is that all of time has already happened. Like a film in a can, it is all there, beginning to end; and, like a film, we see it sequentially, frame after frame, and that is what gives us the illusion of movement, and of the arrow of time. Sometimes he goes a little further; and, seeing the film strips lying in coils side by side on the reel, wonders whether we might, just might, if the conditions were right, be able to read the film not sequentially on the strip, but radially, on the axis of a spoke, and so be able to see, perhaps even move, backwards and forwards in time.

The Shit Hits the Farm

Lady Bracknell would have known exactly what to say. “To lose one case, Mr McCracken, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness.”

The Poppy and the Patient

Today is Remembrance Day. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we remember those who shall grow not old, those who age shall not weary, for they died in the service of their country.

Today we also learned of yet more health service failings, of suffering and death; of lessons unlearnt, and lamentable failures, among older patients undergoing surgery; older patients, a few of whom no doubt fought in Flanders and other fields, and lived, only to be deserted in their late hour of need by the country they had served.

Coales Hits the Fans

No smoke without a fire, they say, and Hot Burning Coales appears to be doing her best to hot things up, not to mention generate much smoke. Her posts and tweets continue to appear and disappear faster than a Swiss clock cuckoo – a post posted earlier today has already gone - but when in view they tell a story that suggests the Royal College of Caring and Sharing isn’t perhaps quite as caring and sharing as its senior members want us to believe. A report earlier this year in the Telegraph, linked to by HBC, tells how College employees repeatedly taunted another hapless member of staff with xenophobic jests and sexual jibes. She suggests, though Dr No has not been able to find supporting evidence, that the College has upset College candidates and members arriving on the other bus by cosying up to the Sultan of Brunei, who rules over a country infamous for locking up fudge packers (but not, for some reason, crack snackers). She has even all but charged the College with institutional racism, alleging that the lower Clinical Skills Assessment pass rate for international medical graduates stems not from a lower quality of candidates but from a systemic bias by College examiners against our overseas colleagues. And last, but by no means least, she accuses the College of constructive dismissal, insofar as it made her life as a Council member so intolerable that she was forced to resign.

Seven Seven

W1A (BBC Two) continues to amuse. Like totally. Following on from Twenty Twelve and WIA, the BBC must commission a third series, Seven Seven, being the slogan for like the new dietary advice to eat seven portions of fruit and veg seven days a week. With Lord Grantham tasked to deliver an alternative to the gruesome vision of a bloated ageing nation belching and farting its way to immortality, and the awesome perfect curves of Siobhan on hand to nail any loose puppies to the floor, Dr No SO gets it. Like totally. Give this pony some traction, guys, and we can be drinking from the fire-hose from the get go.