James Patrick Payne

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 08 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i751
  1. Jacqueline Payne

James Patrick Payne, known to his friends as Jimmy, was born in Dalkeith, near Edinburgh, the eldest of four children. His family then moved to Larkhall, Lanarkshire, when his father got a job there as a pharmacist. After his father died from the late effects of mustard gas when James was 14, his mother took her four children to live with their grandmother in Leith. Jimmy was not always destined to be a doctor. On being sacked from his first job in a canning factory, he decided he never wanted to be out of work again. He considered either becoming a union man or studying for a profession. To the eternal disappointment of his mother, who had hoped he would become a Catholic priest, he chose medicine. He became a student at the University of Edinburgh, financing his way by working on the railway. He was a fireman on the Mallard, when it ran on the east coast London to Edinburgh line and, on one memorable occasion, burnt the furniture in the first class coach to get it over Highgate Hill.

He was a student during the war when, while on army training corps exercises, he suffered a detached retina as a result of a thunder flash exploding. Unable to read for several weeks, he volunteered at the surgical outpatient department at the hospital in Leith, in the dock …

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