Letters Forty Years of Murder

Prostitutes I have had

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e7725 (Published 19 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7725
  1. Tom Young, emergency physician1
  1. 1Southern Trust, Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry, UK
  1. twsy{at}doctors.org.uk

I read Professor Simpson’s autobiography before entering medical school at a time when I considered trying to follow in his footsteps.1 My copy, handed down from my father, a GP, sits in my study next to Browne and Tullet’s biography of Spilsbury, which belonged to my grandfather, also a GP.

Just browsing through my copy now, I notice that I had highlighted some passages, probably soon after starting medical school:

  • Contrasting himself with Spilsbury: “It is in teaching, training pupils, writing, the media and in lecture travelling that lasting repute lies”

  • “I think there is hardly any subject on which doctors are generally agreed”

  • Haigh (the acid bath murderer) “was doubly wrong. First, because the Crown has to prove murder, not produce a dead body . . . Secondly, every trace . . . had not gone, as I was able to prove”

  • “‘Now, I’ve had a number of prostitutes over the years,” to get the attention of medical students when lecturing to them

  • “It applies to us all: we need well informed opposition, proper testing of our views and an occasional grilling in court to ensure real fair-mindedness”

  • Describing a colleague: “He died . . . an unhappy man, I felt, who had never sought, as we all have to do, the respect and goodwill of his own colleagues”

  • “Coincidences are far more common in life than fiction”

  • “We shall all die after our last meal (but it doesn’t necessarily follow that it killed us).”


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7725


  • Competing interests: TY knew some of Keith Simpson’s grandchildren when he was younger.


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