River Wissey Lovell Fuller

What Does The Doctor Think - March?

March 2014

Nothing too much to report from our house at the moment. The following might be of interest to regular readers. Our cock pheasant has moved on. We have not seen him in the garden this Winter. One of the hens (part of his now redundant harem which, at its height, comprised seven hen pheasants, trashed our garden and really exhausted the cock pheasant) appeared in November and mooned about in a desultory fashion for a month or so before disappearing. As a result, our garden is untrampled, plants are growing well and the matter of the domestic pheasants seems to have resolved itself without recourse to the multiple simultaneous lead injections I was considering at this time last year. The garden is full of snowdrops and aconites, the tree peonies are getting going and all seems to be well. As yet, there is no sign of the Spanish Bluebells, against which I have waged war for many years. I am not naïve enough to think I may have eradicated them – I imagine they are lying underground, spreading sideways and storing the energy for their concerted assault on my nervous system in a month or so.

The lack of significant frost means that all our chalk house and garden walls are still intact so I will not need to spend the Spring rebuilding them.

Management and I recently spent a couple of weeks in a wooden shack right on the beach in the Maldives; it was really peaceful, with lots of reading and snorkelling. We flew direct to Male on a Thomson Dreamliner, the Boeing 787 which was grounded shortly after its launch last year because the batteries kept catching fire and bits of the fuselage would fall off. Those problems seem to have been sorted out but they need to spend time sorting out their seat allocation computer system which has caused all sorts of problems. As soon as we arrived, Deannie came under attack. Some idiot in a hurry ran over her toes with a luggage trolley, taking out a lump of skin and flesh. We had been on the island less than an hour when the neighbourhood heron dropped a massive fish from his nest at the top of the palm tree behind our shack – it missed Deannie's head by an inch or two and landed with a massive thump at her feet – I have never seen her jump so high! While recovering from that shock, she went in to unpack and managed to drop a very heavy glass star-shaped perfume bottle (“Angel” for you ladies who know about these things) with one of the points of the star powering straight into her injured foot.  All was pain sailing thereafter.

In the last article, when I was discussing our stormy trip on one of my Cruise Line Ship's Doctor fortnights, I forgot to mention the Emergency “Man Overboard” Drill in Tangiers. The ship has several foam life-size dummies,  each dressed in an orange boiler suit. Each dummy has had a face drawn by the Fillipino crew; every face looks thoroughly miserable, with a downturned mouth and sad eyes. This is not unreasonable as, once a week or so, the dummy has to be rescued from a fire onboard ship or from the sea, to mention just a couple of the disasters which befall the poor things. We all trooped up to deck 7, the lifeboat deck, and chucked the dummy overboard. He fell about 140 feet into the water and floated at the stern of the ship. The ship's rescue crew then set about launching their rescue boat – lots of ropes, shackles, chains, winches and things -  to lower the boat into the water. However, within 60 seconds of us heaving the dummy overboard, a police rescue launch flew over from the other side of Tangiers harbour and arrived in a cloud of spray and bow wave to rescue the bloke they had seen fall in the water. The language problem came into play and they seemed unable to understand why we wanted them to go away. Eventually, they ignored us, went to rescue the dummy, took one look at his face, the penny dropped and, in a cloud of mirth, they heaved off back to their port office.

This story has a sad ending. It took us so long to launch the boat that the medical team had to declare the dummy dead when he arrived on deck. Well, it was coffee-time! Even sadder was an E mail which came from the company a couple of weeks later. They have decided to put permanent doctors on their ships and have dispensed with the services of us panel doctors with immediate effect. So, us experienced “proper” GPs, so beloved of the elderly UK passengers onboard, will be replaced by foreign doctors and we shall see how it pans out. However, I am sorry to say that there will be no more tales from the Cruise Ship.

I am writing this on St Valentine's Day, in plenty of time for the February 14th deadline for the magazine, and I think you might like the following joke:

It was Valentine's day evening and a man and a woman were having a romantic meal in a fine restaurant. They were gazing lovingly at each other and holding hands. Suddenly, the woman slid down her chair and under the table. The waitress watched as the woman disappeared from view and the man stared straight ahead. She walked over to the table - “Excuse me Sir, but I think your wife just slid under the table”. The man looked up at her calmly and said “No she didn't. She just walked into the restaurant”.

Lots of jokes next time – they are piling up and some are suitable for the magazine!

Best wishes to you all – Ian Nisbet

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