Hello sailor

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 26 July 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:259
  1. Colin Douglas
  1. doctor and novelist, Edinburgh

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    He flounced into the sick bay, sat down, crossed his legs, and gazed across the desk into my eyes. “Honestly, sir, I don't know whether I need a psychiatrist or a gynaecologist.” Then, to my relief, he laughed.

    He was not a proper sailor. He was a merchant seaman, actually the wardroom bar steward in a helicopter training ship manned by a mixture of civilian and service personnel.

    It was nothing serious, certainly nothing requiring a specialist referral, and the consultation ended with an agreeable chat about the ship's programme.

    In another ship and another ocean a very young stoker looking for something for his acne turns out on examination to have, in addition to the odd pustule on his face …

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