Intended for healthcare professionals

Soundings Soundings

Quaint or what?

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 15 July 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:185
  1. Liam Farrell, general practitioner
  1. Crossmaglen, County Armagh

    The hills are beautiful at this time of the year; the verdant meadows tranquil but for the racket of bumblebees frenziedly rogering the butterflies among the dandelions and the Great God Pan making lewd suggestions to the wood nymphs; whinbushes golden and so lush with spines that if you threw in a herbalist she would squeal for weeks; snow white lily-of-the-valley coating the glensides like talcum powder down the natal cleft of a big fat man, as Wordsworth might have said if he had had medical training.

    And the people; slow, sullen, and yet dull, we are so rural that cows are considered effete, stylised, and possibly homosexual, and the only thing we milk is the social security system. We are unsentimental about nature; we can't eat the scenery, we say, though judging from our dental appearance some of us have tried, so we augment our incomes by smuggling and blackmailing small furry animals.

    Hunt saboteurs find us unsympathetic, although we dislike fat upper class bastards on horseback just as much as they do; if a fox could eat you, we assure them, it would, and it wouldn't care if it had to hunt you bare arsed across the hills to do it. As for tree huggers, the day a tree hugs you back, you'll be sorry. According to a local folksong, French kiss an oak tree and you end up with a mouthful of gloopy sap.

    We are shy and terse, and we follow the Bible's teaching: “Never let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” it advises, to which I add, especially when it involves bodily organs. One of the joys of visiting other countries is engaging in discourse with the locals and learning about their culture, so tourists here are fucked.

    Up here the police enjoy all the esteem of a dead goat, and a doctor's life accordingly becomes more diverting.

    “My brother's cut himself, I want you to come out and stitch him up.”

    I explained that such a brutal injury would need to attend the surgery.

    “There's no one for to drive him.”

    I remained firm, and eventually the real reason emerged.

    “We can't bring him in, he's threatening us with a knife.”

    We are unsentimental about nature

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