Authors: Robert Clifford
Tags: #Humorous, #medical, #hospital, #registrar, #experiences, #funny events, #life of a doctor, #everday occurrences, #amusing, #entertaining, #light-hearted, #personal dramas, #humanity
STEADY NOW DOCTOR
Dr Robert Clifford
First published in Great Britain, 2001 by
ARTHUR H. STOCKWELL LTD
Torrs Park, Ilfracombe, Devon, EX34 8BA
Digital edition converted and distributed in 2015 by
Andrews UK Limited
Â© Dr Robert Clifford, 2001, 2015
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters and incidents are the product of the author's imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales, is purely coincidental.
From Nonentity To Deity
Doctor Andrew Howard lost his virginity at the age of twenty-four, in the third month of his first resident house job to the best looking female Senior Surgical Registrar that there had probably ever been.
She was so good-looking that in her presence even the most eminent surgeons behaved like adolescent schoolboys, and in addition she had an aura of sexuality which made even the hospital Chaplain break into a sweat.
That he should lose his virginity at such a time, would have been a terrible shock, not only to all his friends but also to many of his most brief acquaintances.
One of two things that helped him in his earlier days, was the fact that since the age of thirteen through a misunderstanding at the men's hairdressers, he had always carried a packet of French letters in his wallet. A packet had fallen off the shelf, he picked it up and the hairdresser said, “That will be nine pence.”
Recently he had come across a couple of discarded wallets, each still showing the tell-tale ring that French letters eventually engrave through the substance of the leather.
Where today, you might have a supplier of crack or cocaine, in his circle he was the man to come to if you thought you had a chance of having it away. He never charged for his protective sheaths, even sometimes having to steal from his mother's handbag to make sure that he always had a supply of the readies. He would even give the most profound advice on how to go about things. He was thought to be the complete man of the world; even the football captain was in awe of him. What is more, he was completely discreet. No one knew about his conquests, whereas others did it or nearly did it, just to talk about it. Not divulging his secrets only increased his stock.
It would have been greeted with utter disbelief had it become known that it was not until he was twenty-four that he was literally led by the hand to his first experience of the
Well of Pleasure
Andy had no idea whether his birth was planned or not. His sister Lettice (the second support of his early days) was an accident and was one of the reasons for his parents unhappy marriage.
He did not know whether it was being called Lettice (Lettuce is full of the anti-sterility Vitamin, Vitamin E) or his parents unhappy marriage, but, from the age of fifteen there was always a welcome in his sister's body for any presentable interested male. Initially for a bag of sweets, then as the years progressed, a few drinks, to a formal meal until finally at the age of nineteen, it would have to be at least a weekend away with a bit of jewellery thrown in.
She was five years older than Andy, and the only time in his life he was really popular was this period, when boys, men? who were always eight to ten years older wanted to meet his sister, or borrow a French letter or both. She was a lovely girl, and he thought it was a great surprise to her to find that she was carrying around something so precious that all men were after it.
She was a great Big Sister to him making up for his parents deficiencies who were so busy continually rowing that they did not have much time to take any notice of either of them.
Unfortunately, at the age of twenty-one, she got religion, and immediately became nasty. At twenty-three she married a one-eyed Baptist minister and became a typical “mother Grundy” eventually going off with her one-eyed partner to be missionaries in New Guinea.
They never heard from them again and thought that they had probably been eaten by their flock. Although the family never heard from them directly, they did know of people who had, but they never saw them again.
Andy was born in the year of the General Strike in 1926 and felt that this was a significant factor in his life, that he had entered the world on a day when nothing was happening and no one was working.
He went to a variety of schools, the first of which he could hardly remember was a Church infant school, which could have been the reason why many years later the missionaries nearly signed him up. One clear recollection of this school was the open fire with a guard, on which the lady teacher, who seemed to have a perpetual cold, spread out snot soaked handkerchiefs to dry.
He then went to a prep school where he had a dim recollection of doing well, or at least not doing so badly that he was out of step with everyone. Matters were put to rights at his third school which was coeducational. He hated it. It had no redeeming features. Even girls were an additional source of humiliation.
What absolutely terrified him was the swimming on Saturday mornings in the school baths.
He would try and sprain his ankle, have a cold, anything, so as not to have to face the compulsory jump into the baths. Fortunately his father was always on the move to new jobs, and although it seemed a lifetime, he can't have been at the school for more than two years. In spite of these unhappy two years, it was during them that life really began for him.
It all started when there was a knock on the door and a policeman in full uniform greeted his mother with the words, “I have come to see your son about house breaking.”
It was the beginning of some of the stormiest weeks of his life. For one short period of time his parents were so busy having a go at him, there was no time to row amongst themselves. He was not sure if that is what they mean when they say children bind a marriage together.
What had happened, was that one day he was walking across the land of an unpleasant farmer, who used to spread the contents of his cesspit either side of the right of way to deter people from straying off the path.
He was with two older boys from his street who had discovered that not only had the farmer moved, leaving an empty farmhouse, but had also left a full basket of eggs in the front room.
The eggs were taken outside and all three boys systematically threw them at the house, covering it with yolk, and for good measure threw a few stones at the windows, shattering a few panes of glass.
One of his more sophisticated companions (they were eleven, he was nine), had noticed some games had been left in a cupboard, so he returned that night to purloin them, professionally slipped the catch, then climbed over the window-sill into the arms of a waiting policeman.
His mother had a field day. He would be sent to prison and expelled from school, bringing everlasting disgrace to the family. He remembered about two months after the incident that he made the mistake of coming home from school smiling. How could he smile, et cetera.
The crux of the case was that one police sergeant wanted to take them to juvenile court, and the other sergeant didn't.
In view of their tender years, they were to be spared court if he was prepared to join the Wolf Cubs and the other two the Scouts. This of course he did, and thus began some of the happiest years of his life. He was in his element. Two years later, after another move to another place, he became a Boy Scout and really, now approaching the end of his life, looking back, he realized that he had been a Boy Scout all his life.
As a Boy Scout he won the war against Germany single handed by collecting waste paper in a trek cart, which also gave him the bonus of reading all the personal mail of the beautiful Betty Jameson - always unobtainable, who lived at the top of the road. Many years later when he was a medical student and she a radiographer, he still adored her, and she was always nice to him in a sort of head-patting way, only consorting with men who were at least ten years older than him.
In 1942 he cycled to his grandmother's house in Blackpool with a boy called Joneson, accompanied for the first day and a half by a boy called Ward. When he and Joneson bumped into each other in later years they wondered why they went together. They weren't even really friendly before or after the immediate event. But in later years they did see each other from time to time, and had joint outings with their wives.
Over the years Joneson became very successful, and was almost running the Common Market at one time. His home in Bath was the most beautiful house Andy had ever been in and in 1992 on the 50
anniversary of their trip, Andy and his wife Mary were invited to a most sophisticated lunch. This was followed by coffee and liqueurs in the pavilion of Bath stone the Jonesons had built on the hill, at the top of their garden for listening to his recordings of Schubert.
It was breathtaking with a wide panoramic view of Bath stretching away beneath them.
Never close friends, but always with a great regard for one another and always wondering what happened to Ward, where did he go, and who he actually was.
Driving back from the Jonesons, for no definable reason, Andy recalled not one of his successes, but what for him was one of the most abject failures of his early years. He could have only been six or seven. The family were staying at Uncle Arthur's (with a waxed moustache) and Auntie Alice's at Ramsgate. There was a buzz one evening as the next day Lobby Ludd was to be in Ramsgate, and some lucky person who had to be holding a
would challenge him with the words, “You are Lobby Ludd, I claim the
prize” - to be awarded five pounds, which was a fortune in those days. Andy knew it would be he who would win, just as nowadays everybody knows that it will be they who is going to win the Lottery. He intercepted the paper boy and sped off into town clutching the
- challenging left and right. He spent the day unsuccessfully scouring the town, as his mother, father, aunt and uncle scoured the town looking for this lost little boy, eventually seeking the aid of the Police who found him fast asleep in a deck chair still clutching his
All he won that day was a smacked bottom. He never forgot the incident, the name Lobby Ludd somehow became imprinted in his mind.
Riding to Blackpool was recognized as a great feat in 1942, never mind Dunkirk, and the Middle East - the boys were fifteen years old, cooked their food over wood fires before blackout time, and each had a knife, which as well as blades, had a spike for getting stones out of horses hooves. Joneson still had his diary he made of the event, with entries such as - Ward making a dash for Burton-on-Trent today - and on the finance page, lunch 6d., and 3d. for a tart, later. It must have been an edible one, surely.
When he was aged eleven, the family moved to Surrey where he attended the local grammar school. He didn't enjoy his days there, but it was from this very school that he met Joneson, and four years later they went off on their great adventure.
He was an indifferent scholar, and was almost always at the bottom of the class - out of twenty-nine he was usually 27
When in his early forties, whilst clearing out some drawers, he discovered a bundle of reports which only contained one good remark.
The remark, which many a time he had pondered over, sprang out almost in neon lights, in the rows of poors, very poor and does not try. It said,
GOOD WORK IN WARSHIP WEEK
. Now what on earth could he have done to gain acclaim in this week, and what was
anyway. His only possible reference was Joneson, and he had no idea.
He was once asked, during a TV interview regarding a new book, “Tell me, Doctor, what were your schooldays like?”
Nodding wisely, he replied, “It was reported that I was very good in
The interviewer was momentarily nonplussed. It would be a loss of face to confess ignorance of such an event, so he quickly replied, “That's marvellous, absolutely marvellous,” and quickly changed the subject.
In a way this was gratifying for Andy as it is said that everything you do in life at some time serves a useful purpose, and until that TV interview he had not been able to fit
into the scheme of things.
He did, at the age of twelve, briefly achieve some transitory fame at this school. It was in the end of term boxing, which he hated. He was boxing somebody who was just as bad at it as he was, and they were hurting each other almost to the point of tears, when he noticed, after one right-handed punch, that his hand hurt. When he returned to his corner at the end of the round he told the Games Master, who proceeded to wiggle his hand around, but pronounced it OK. He was not discomforted during the next two interminable rounds, where they almost pummelled each other to death, collapsing in each others arms.
This was an indication of fine sportsmanship, and brought a standing ovation from watching parents and friends. What the crowd didn't realize was that the boys were so shagged out, this was the only way they could stay on their feet.
It should, of course, have been a draw. They were both as bad as one another, but Andy was declared the winner on points.
When they took his gloves off in the corner it was noticed that one of his knuckles was bruised. The St John Ambulance man in attendance was called over for a consultation. He ordered an immediate course of action, and proceeded to put Andy's arm in a triangular bandage, although he didn't feel that there was anything wrong at all. Of course, with his arm in a sling Andy got another round of applause as he left the hall.
His parents were summoned (they had not come to watch him), and they drove to the local hospital where they had to wait two hours for an X-ray. Eventually, a disgruntled Radiographer (he kept on repeating that he had been dragged away from a darts match) held up a negative and said, “He has a hairline fracture of the knuckle of his fifth finger, and will need to keep his arm in a sling for a week.”
Andy was delighted by this. It kept him out of doing all sorts of things, including writing.
Word got out that Howard, in spite of breaking a bone in his right hand in the first round, had fought on and won his bout.
Just be careful with him, he doesn't look it, but he's as tough as hell.