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Accepting The Odd Goat

   The truth of L. P. Hartley's famous description of the past being a foreign country where things were done differently is nowhere better illustrated than in the professional life and ethos of doctors in Britain. In this unusual, hilarious, and occasional shocking memoir, events are described which will make you blink. All were considered normal forty or fifty years ago junior doctors used as guinea pigs; worked like serfs to the point of collapse; paid like convicts; trained spasmodically, if at all; treated with contempt by their seniors; promoted haphazardly; and housed sometimes in conditions which would not disgrace Victorian workhouses (using newspapers to supplement bedding, eating food which appeared rotten, in instances described). And yet at the same time they were granted responsibilities for life and death which would cause outright scandal nowadays, were respected, even loved, by their patients and when they could forget their fatigue and their fear of being forced to emigrate because no coherent method of arranging permanent employment for them could be devised by government were happy. A foreign country indeed, not so long ago, and recalled and commented on sardonically by the author who thrived despite it all, and went on to, what was by his own admission, an unlikely success. How much was good, how much bad? And how much is better? This record of yesterday versus today will help you to decide as you marvel, and laugh.     (more...)


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