Views Soundings

An Auchendreich farewell

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39024.692095.59 (Published 09 November 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1027
  1. Colin Douglas, doctor and novelist
  1. 1Edinburgh

Our newest consultant orthopod, a Mr Palchaudri, toys nervously with his haggis pakora. “I really wasn't sure about this evening. Lovely to be invited, though perhaps one should have declined. Dr MacEachern was exceptionally kind at my interview, but as a very new boy in school, so to speak . . .” A senior general practitioner pats his arm. “Not at all, laddie. It's a great way o' meeting folk, a farewell dinner.”

It certainly is. Everyone who is anyone in the Auchendreich medical world is here in the Royal Dreichside Tandoori Palace, where a lively reception—cava and popadums—has set the tone, and dinner and the speeches will see us through to midnight. The retirement of Ecky MacEachern, once aptly described as “the last of the gentleman medical directors,” is indeed an important occasion in our history.

Pakora, bhaji, mulligatawny soup, murgh tikka, lamb biryani, rogan josh, halva, and kulfi come and go, washed down with lager, cava, and—for the few on call—our world famous Dreichmore sparkling water. Around the tables Ecky stories abound: his masterly handling of the almost forgotten urology debacle of 20 years ago; his ultimately triumphant guile and persistence in the long struggle between the Royal Dreich Infirmary and the now defunct Inverdreich General; and his astonishing influence—for the greater good of Auchendreich, it should at once be emphasised—in the mysterious business of merit awards.

In a long tribute a senior urologist summarises Ecky's career: beginning with a complicated tale—from their time together as housemen—involving a fire escape, a bottle of Mateus Rosé, and the then student nurse who for the last 40 years has been Ecky's wife; and ending with a litany of committee achievements that had, as he put it, made certain that the voice of Auchendreich was heard in the highest councils of the land.

The young orthopod seems to have enjoyed the evening. Over a late liqueur I ask about his recent move. He replies: “London's all very well for one's training, but living is far more important, and we've always loved Scotland. My wife is Scottish, a MacEachern, actually, and they have some wonderful shooting on the estate. So there's a lot to be said for Auchendreich, and with time one could even get used to haggis pakora.”

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