Tuesday, 17 July 2012


Much to my surprise I have been persuaded by Terence English, and of course the apparently irrepressible enthusiast David Turner, to attend the year reunion in September.    I have always made it an implacable rule never to look back – probably because of the acute embarrassment that would likely be involved.    I have never attended meetings (other than clinical), AGMs, administrative conferences, reunions, anniversaries etc.   I have always felt that the future would be less dreadfully humiliating than the past, and that life must surely eventually reward me with the contentment I undoubtedly deserve (I joke – (I think)).

 I was most moved to be reminded by Joe Meyer of his earnest endeavours on my behalf, those many years ago.    Rosemary in her cryptic reference to failing to take his advice, did not also mention that despite her diminutive (but perfectly formed) figure, not only dumped me, but booted me so far into touch, that I never dared speak to her again (which I certainly would have done if she had ever let me!).     Needless to say, after that, over the next couple of years I behaved appallingly badly with various nurses, secretaries, physiotherapists etc.     It makes me cringe to contemplate it again.    As luck would have it, I then met my wife Joan (a final year nurse) and we married soon after.

 We have been happily married now for 52 years – a son and a daughter, now coming up to 50 and 46.    At least I have been happily married     Memorably, and I have to say entirely reasonably, (just awful behaviour – no other women involved I hasten to add!)   Joan once decided that enough was enough, and she was going to return home to her mother.   Very fortunately for me, I was in the army at the time, and we were living in Cyprus.    We had no money between us for air fares, and her mother lived in Grimsby.    Joan was forced to have a rethink.    This event, I am embarrassed to say, probably didn’t improve my behaviour much, but at least Joan had the time to reflect that her mother wasn’t necessarily the better option.    I had joined the army for 5 years, in order to obtain the gratuity (no pension) at the end, - the princely sum (then) of £3,200.     This at least got us on to the housing ladder.  I was very surprised to find that I really enjoyed my time in the army, and made many lifelong friends. However, for several reasons Joan and I decided to return to civvy street.

 I had started anaesthetics by then, and worked on the St George’s Hospital registrar rotation.    Those of you who recall my somewhat chequered examination record as a student, will no doubt be surprised to learn that I didn’t seem to have much trouble with obtaining the FFARCS (as it then was). Perhaps I had grown up a bit, and marriage and fatherhood was at last taking its toll.     I went to Great Ormond Street as a registrar, did a locum senior registrar there for a few months then went back to Georges as a senior registrar rotating to the National heart Hospital.     I had been determined to get out of London, and a job came up at Doncaster in South Yorkshire – at that time a brand new hospital, and where I knew people who were working there.     I obtained a consultant post there, and had many happy years, with a lot of ICU work.

 Aged 57 I had a coronary thrombosis on the squash court.     This somewhat surprised me, as due to my portly (beer consumption induced) figure, playing squash had become rather more of an arm waving- about exercise, than actually doing much running – I had fondly thought that I was more likely to succumb to this sort of thing sitting watching television. In those days waiting for angiograms and angioplasties etc. was a lengthy business. I finally convinced them to do something, by having another serious ischaemic episode, while still on sick leave. I had an angioplasty, and decided to retire, on the grounds that I’d rather be poor and alive than rich and dead.


     Touch wood, sixteen years later ( I am 73), I have never had any further trouble, and am constantly amazed at how I ever found the time to go to work.    I have a workshop (woodwork and metal work), stuffed full of lathes and woodworking machines ( I have always been a firm believer in not doing anything by hand if you can find an expensive  machine to do it for you),  where I can happily spend hours without actually achieving much ( as Joan would say, the story of my life).  

 I love computers and the internet (another monumental waste of time).   I read earnestly, and industriously , popular science of all sorts.   I find quantum theory , ( of which I understand not a thing - luckily not many people do) particularly rewarding, as I can read the same book many times without being aware that I have already read it - real value for money.   Joan and I don't holiday away as such.   We spend several days a year following our local Rugby Union Team around the country in the winter, and going to watch Yorkshire play cricket up and down the land in the summer (even when there isn't one! ).  I look forward to meeting everyone in September.   
                                                                                                                         Jim Carmichael.                                                                                                                                                                                    

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