Intended for healthcare professionals

Career Focus

Carry on camping

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 03 July 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:s10
  1. Nicola Sharp

“This did not happen,” Martha Millstone sat on Hubert's desk and did up her bra strap.

“Martha, it has happened every day this week.” Hubert slid his hairy hand around Martha's waist.

“We must forget about it.” Martha pulled away from Hubert and picked up her skirt.

“It happened three times on Thursday.” Hubert looked longingly at Martha's legs.

“A bad day. A complete lack of judgment.” Martha's bleep went off. She picked it up.

“Really? Can you honestly say that Thursday was a complete lack of judgment? Did you not enjoy yourself at all? You sounded as though you did.”

“Don't be so vulgar.” Martha clipped her bleep on to the waistband of her skirt. “All right, I did enjoy myself.”

“I know you did,” said Hubert. “So there is something going on between us.”

“All right, yes there is.” Martha picked up her jacket.

“Hooray. We're back together again.” Hubert sprang off his desk and leaped around the room, completely naked.

“People will see you,” said Martha.

“You don't usually care what people think.”

“There are journalists out there, with cameras.”

Hubert moved away from the window. “But will you divorce David?”

“I must go to the wards,” said Martha.

“Martha, wait, I must tell you something,” said Hubert. Martha marched out of the room, shut the door behind her and turned to see David hurrying towards her.

* * *

“Are you all right?” asked David. “You look a little flustered.”

“It's exhausting,” said Martha.

“Well we're none of us as young as we were,” said David. “I do think you're doing too much.”

“Someone has to save the hospital,” said Martha.

“Has Hubert been trying to persuade you to stop your campaign?” asked David. “I do think the campfire is a fire risk.”

“No. Hubert wants me to continue,” said Martha.

“I'd better have a word with him,” said David.

“I wouldn't,” said Martha. “He's... not there.”

“But you've just come out of his office.”

“Yes, but he's not there.”

“I'll leave him a note, then.”

“David, I need to talk to you about Douglas.”

“You mustn't be too angry.”


“He's left.”


“He's handed in his notice.”

“And you didn't tell me?”

“I didn't know until today.”

“You'd better find him and tell him to return to work.”

“Martha, he's twenty five years old. He should be able to decide what he wants to do.”

“He is clearly incapable of making his own choices. You must find him another job.”

“I really don't think he wants to be a doctor. I think we pushed him into it.”

“Poppycock. Tell him I want a word with him.”

“Very well, dear. I'll go and leave this note for Hubert now.”

“I don't think you should do that.”

“Why not, dear?”

“Because we need to speak about something else.”

“Why don't we go out for a meal tonight and have a nice chat. I have to get on now.”

“But it's urgent.”

“What's urgent, dear?”

“Giles and Penelope.”

“Penelope is blooming, isn't she?”

“You mean she's the size of a bus.”

“We can talk about this later.”

“But their marriage is on the rocks. It has been since Penelope became pregnant.”

“Are you sure you're all right, dear? You don't usually worry so much about the children. I'll book a table at the Swab and Scalpel, and we'll talk tonight. Now I must leave this message.”

“No,” said Martha, but David pushed Hubert's door open.

* * *

“What do you think you're doing here?” asked Martha. Dr Goodwood was sitting by the campfire with the junior doctors.

“I've come to congratulate you,” said Dr Goodwood. “It's an excellent publicity stunt. Junior doctors sleep in tents because they have no accommodation.”

“Someone has to save the hospital,” said Martha.

“I'd like us to join forces again,” said Dr Goodwood.

“I'm doing very well on my own,” said Martha.

“We make a good partnership,” said Dr Goodwood.

“Not another partnership,” said Martha.

“I'll do the boring side,” said Dr Goodwood. “I'll speak to the lawyers and raise money. You can do the publicity.”

“So I can just carry on camping,” said Martha.

“Excellent,” said Dr Goodwood.

“Would you like to stay for a sausage?” asked Martha.

“I won't say no,” said Dr Goodwood.

The characters this week

Martha Millstone—a consultant surgeon, is campaigning to save the hospital from closure

Hubert—the chief executive

David Millstone—Martha's husband, a consultant psychiatrist and the medical director

Douglas—Martha and David's younger son, a house officer

Giles—Martha and David's elder son, a GP

Penelope—Giles' wife, an SHO in medicine, is pregnant

Dr Goodwood—a consultant physician on gardening leave, previously campaigned with Martha to save the hospital

Martha looked up at Hubert's office window. She thought she could see him. “I must be off,” she said.

“Don't you want a sausage?” asked Dr Goodwood.

“I'm a very busy woman,” said Martha.

* * *

Martha undid the top two buttons on her blouse and walked into Hubert's office. “I'm not here,” she said.

David Millstone looked up from Hubert's desk. “I do think all this protesting is too much for you, Martha.”

“It's you,” said Martha.

“Your blouse is undone,” said David.

Martha did her buttons up. “What are you doing here? You were here this morning.”

“Yes, and now I'm looking for the papers on the developments at the Turchester Royal. Hubert said they were on his desk.”

“Where's Hubert?”

“Well he's gone now, but he was here this morning.”

“And how was he?”


“Not a little... flustered?”

“No. Is there something wrong, Martha?”

“Do you know if Hubert'll be back today?”

“I wouldn't have thought so.”


“He's gone to Delhi.”

“In India?”

“Well, yes.”

“With that wife of his?”

“I think he might have taken her along.”


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