A memorable interview: None of his business

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 11 January 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:g
  1. Denis Sugrue
  1. retired consultant in Stoke on Trent

    At the outbreak of the second world war a plastic and jaw unit was established by Sir Harold Gillies at Rooksdown House, Basingstoke. In 1954 I applied for a post in plastic surgery.

    The subsequent interview was held at the hospital, a strange looking building which had been the private block of Park Prewett Hospital. On inquiry at the porter's office, I was directed by an elderly gentleman to wait in the main hall along with the other candidates. Being last in line for interview I was left in glorious isolation until joined by the porter who proceeded to make conversation. His opening gambit was to inquire how much fishing I had done in Ireland, to which I replied in the negative. As to other sporting activities, I admitted there were none at that particular time. There followed a few desultory questions about my surgical activities, which I thought were none of his business. Returning to the question of sport, he expressed further curiosity regarding my sporting interests in the past. Feeling slightly irritated and intimidated by the old man's persistence I announced that I had been a member of the Irish Olympic rowing team which competed at Henley in 1948. He was most interested in this information and casually mentioned that he had rowed for Cambridge in the Boat Race. It emerged that he had also played golf for England and that painting and fishing were his main interests apart, of course, from plastic surgery.

    Shortly afterwards I was called in to see the medical superintendent who, after a few perfunctory remarks, told me that Sir Harold Gillies had interviewed me in the hall and that my application was satisfactory. During the ensuing three years at Rooksdown House Sir Harold made no reference to our unconventional interview.

    View Abstract

    Sign in

    Log in through your institution

    Free trial

    Register for a free trial to to receive unlimited access to all content on for 14 days.
    Sign up for a free trial