before being appointed to my Consultant position here in 1982, I was invited to
become a visiting consultant to a group of practices in
. This would involve initially twice yearly trips between
. At that time I was very green, in the inexperienced sense, with the thought of
such a trip quite daunting. However nothing ventured etc as I sat on the plane
in my consultoid three piece suit ready for the challenge ahead. Unfortunately
the flight was delayed by 12 hours as several of the toilets were not
functioning. The very eloquent pilot explained that he would happily fly with
one engine missing, but not a toilet down – we all preferred both if possible.
the delay and length of flight this fairly smart individual looked like a wet
rag on arrival in
. The first impression was the searing heat and smell when the cabin doors
opened which knocked one back. Then into the airport with a swarming mass of
people which extended everywhere in
. The roads inevitably teaming with overladen
buses, scooters, rickshaws, oxen etc, all making the most incredible
my colleagues were most welcoming and had arranged a party to greet me with many
local dignitaries present. Unfortunately with the delayed flight I was whisked
straight to the function, rather than having the whole day to recover. As you
can imagine I must have looked like a dishevelled zombie, hardly able to keep my
eyes open – what a great first impression.
work was quite hard and intense in each of the three centres, mainly due to the
volume of patients and also with intense heat and rather poor functioning air
capital city, many of the patients were the children of diplomats. At that time
neighboring Afghanistan was not only the main heroine production area feeding
the USA, but Russia was about to take over to have an all weather port, for its
warships in the Arabian Sea. Hence huge numbers of diplomats came from all over
the world, and in order to induce the best a healthcare package had to be
available to families. Good orthodontic care was an essential part of this
package to entice diplomats to the area. We were hoping to have a spin-off of a
cleft lip and palate service on the back of this, but unfortunately this was not
possible with the beaurocracy involved.
fun part of each trip was the 3 or 4 days tagged onto the end for sightseeing
or on the way home. My favourite journey was twice going up to the mountains in
the north taking the rather precarious flight to Gilgit. At that time the
aircraft were ancient Fokker Friendships with a maximum cruising height of
15,000ft. Sadly most of the mountains of the area were over 20,000ft which meant
flying in valleys with the wings seemingly touching the mountain sides – quite
unnerving! The plane was a commuter one laden with people, string tied boxes and
on one occasion a sheep!. Being the only European on board, I was invited into
the cockpit for a better view and sat between the two pilots. On coming into
Gilgit they asked me to spot the
runway, which I could not make out at all. They both took great delight in
watching my jaw drop ,as we came from the mountaintops to this indecipherable
air strip amongst the rocks.
Gilgit at 8000ft I was able to hire a jeep and driver to take me up the
up to the Chinese border at the
at over 12,000 ft. This road is considered to be the 8th wonder of
the world as it was so difficult to build high up on the sides of the
valley. Thirteen hundred lives were also lost in its construction. The Hunza
valley was particularly stunning as here the three great mountain ranges of the
meet. A wonderful fertile area with masses of apricot trees in blossom. You run
out of superlatives here as there are more peaks around this valley of over
20,000ft than there of over 10,000ft in the entire
tourist accommodation at that time was very basic. At the lodge you were given
some firewood and a set of interlocking metal tubes to make a chimney – it was
absolutely freezing at night. Mein host brought a couple of live chickens under
his arms for us to choose our evening meal. Being novices at this game we picked
the wrong one, and ended up with the toughest rooster imaginable. However
surviving the night allowed me to watch the sun come up over the mountains and
made it all worthwhile. Onwards up the highway you could see remnants of the old
Silk route from
high up on the valley sides. Vast glaciers, the Battura being the most
memorable, swept down majestically from the peaks. The road was quite
treacherous, often sections being swept away or huge house-size boulders
dropping onto it.
on returning to Gilgit I found all flights had been cancelled due to bad
weather, with little hope of it clearing for days. So I and a business man from
hired a jeep and driver to take us back down the
, as we had other flights to catch. This was a 16 hour drive along this hairy
road and we had seen remnants of buses and cars which had gone over the side.
After about 10 minutes we realized the driver was as high as a kite and had
already done the upward journey that day. We both had to stay awake all night to
keep an eye on the driver, and reduce the chance of becoming a statistic. The
only way we could do this was to tell jokes to eachother for hours, which we
managed with such high stakes at hand.
On another trip my
wife Steph came out to join me a week later while I was in Rawlpindi. On
airport alone she telephoned in a slight panic thinking there had been a recent
massacre and blobs of blood on the pavement. Had the military regime brutally
put down an uprising, and suppressed any reporting? No it was the habit of paan
chewing and spitting out bright red saliva making it look as though there had
been a blood bath. However recovering from this we eventually went on a tour of
to the Afghan border. In this area everybody carries guns and refugees flood
over the border in their millions to United Nations camps near Peshawer. The
police had jurisdiction on the roads but not the surrounding area. Therefore you
would see streams of smugglers carrying TVs, videos etc on their heads, just
walking along the side of the road by the border totally unchallenged. The
terrain of the whole area was amazing hostile with the
the easiest route(!) through. We were fortunate enough to be invited for lunch
in the Officers Mess of the Khyber Rifles HQ, who cover the area. This is a very
old and proud regiment who have patrolled one of the major routes between east
and west for centuries, with many tales to tell.
During my 10 years
there were many other excursions and I was able to gather some of the countries
culture, but sadly little of the language except “open wide” and “bite
together”. My hosts were very friendly and generous and I was able to
repay them with teaching and advice. My alimentary system generally
survived the potentially hostile bacterial onslaught, mainly by avoiding
drinking the water and staying in 5 star hotels! However there was one notable
exception in 1982 when I heard that the Faulklands had been invaded. With a
patriotic group we toasted the downfall of the Argentinians with a glass of
water, there being no alcohol available for the purpose. I don’t think this
touched the sides at all, making the flight home the next day most unpleasant.
Perhaps a case of Galtieries revenge.
My last visit
concluded with a night crab fishing trip in
harbour by Dow, the traditional boat. We had a wonderful evening and great fun
in this group, but did not catch anything. With another colleague, we were
presented with teashirts emblazoned with DID NOT CATCH CRABS IN KARACHI.
Sadly towards the
end of my stint I could sense a gradual change in the country towards
foreigners, particularly westerners, which made me start to feel unsafe.
Although my hosts looked after me extremely well, going around alone in more
remote areaswas potentially hazardous. I would love to return, particularly to
, but in the present climate probably would be unwise. Although arduous and
challenging, I would advise any one to take up such a post, should the
PS The dentist, Dr
Niazi, who invited me was a personal friend and dentist to Ali Bhutto Pakistans
Prime Minister. After the military take over led by General Zia, Mr Bhutto was
executed. As`Dr Niazi was very outspoken against this action, he eventually had
to flee the country on foot before reaching sanctuary in the
. Therefore most of my contacts in
were Bhutto supporters, making each visit of interest to the military police.
In our trip to the NW Frontier, unknown to us, we were followed
for a week by two plainclothed policemen.
here to go to the top of the page
years after they braved brutally cold weather and scant visibility in their
winter ascent of Cader Idris in Snowdownia, the same female members of
Kidderminster Medical Society have reached fresh heights of fitness.
continuing to set an example to their patients, the hardy quintet of Rachel
Ward, Angie Miller, Jane Perry, Judith Hardwick and Fiona McDougal have swapped
mountain-climbing for the new challenge of racing against the clock in official
triathlons, half-marathons and distance running.
made a successful debut on the multi-eventing circuit which ended its seasonal
run in the
this autumn. Expecting to do no more than hold her own in the women's veteran
age-group at the Halesowen Triathlon, Rachel surprised herself by conquering the
entire female field in a time of 1hr,35mins.
south, the trio of Rachel, Angie and Jane joined a massive field of 2,500
athletes -including three 2004 Olympians from the 2004 Games in
-competing in the Stroud Half Marathon. It was a credit to our Society girls
that in a race where large numbers of runners stumbled to a halt at various
stages, all three completed the race without once slowing to a walk.
found that training on the roads and tracks and in the steeply rolling hills of
rural Worcestershire stood her in good stead when she competed with husband Gary
Parsons on the flat in her first half-marathon at
different challenge altogether facing Rachel, Angie and Judith was the Suicide
in late November. Thinking that the daunting six-mile race was so-called
because of the risk of self-inflicted death by exhaustion, the girls had
reckoned without the danger of drowning or dying of hypothermia! The runners
were required to negotiate a freezing stream along the way. But happily, the
water was no more than waist-high and our trio survived the event at a canter.
forgetting that the Society includes any number of male medics who like to look
after their own health, Steve Perry, Alastair Miller, Chris Catchpole and Paul
Thompson have similarly been pushing themselves through the pain barrier to
maintain their high standards of fitness. Steve and Alastair both rose to the
Halesowen Triathlon challenge, while Alastair, Chris and Paul joined our girls
for the Suicide Six.
they all live to tell the tale!
here to go to the top of the page
This years annual
shindig came around as quick as the last, just in time to remind me that there
were only 85 shopping days to Christmas!
with various rides on the go made me wonder initially how Paul Williams had
managed to get hold of the funds for such a venture. Fortunately for some, the
option to hurl themselves thru the night sky wasn’t available as an
alternative to coffee and mints.
were met at the door by the ever youthful David and Liz and a furtive
Boyle looking for an unsuspecting candidate to pen an article for the next
edition of Tattler, or that’s what I thought she said.
usual approach to the bar was as treacherous as ever and I seemed to move
further back with every step. I look forward to the day when I have the gravitas
to get there before the meal starts. I must ask John Wilner how he does it. He
seemed to create an aura around him that the bar staff couldn’t resist.
starter, main and dessert arrived as usual as did the Presidents speech. Dave
managed to keep it punchy and to the point. The most pertinent part being his
toast and word of thanks to the recently retired, or to be retired, table . Said
with more than just a touch of yearning, I felt.
main billed event of the night was the Port tasting, this seemed to go down well
with the non driving portion of the audience. I fully agreed that the last
sample was inferior to the two preceding and couldn’t work out why, if he knew
that, he was palming it off on us! What
do I know? We’re more than happy
with lambrusco in our house.
next year we can have a cheese specialist in and then we’ll be complete.
a final note, thanks to Paul for burdening the stress of organisation and
getting everyone together. As the PCC ends there will be less occasions to meet
and talk unless we make the most of the Medical Society
here to go to the top of the page
Having bitten the bullet and
entered the London Marathon
has now told me that training to run 26 miles and raising sponsorship isn’t
enough, she wants regular articles on the agony and ecstasy of the long distance
RUNNING? Having played hockey for the last 20
years I recently gave up the struggle against a hamstring which ripped if I
looked at a ball never mind run after it and opposition half my age, twice as
fast and ten times as skilful. Rather than slip down the teams and end up
playing against players who thought they were lumberjacks rather than hockey
players and myopic umpires who missed the ‘clubs’ flying around at head
height I decided to find another athletic pursuit. I joined a gym but soon found
I it only fed my insecurities to be surrounded by such beautiful people. Then a
friend suggested a cheaper alternative, join the Worcester Joggers (a bit of a
misnomer as some ‘joggers’ seem to go exceedingly fast). Runners are not the
most aesthetically gifted people and a bald, fortyish, bespectacled asthmatic
with a slight potbelly and a disproportionately large bum fits right in. So
since summer 2004 I’ve become an athlete!
with all things blame my wife and my mother. Unfortunately my mum has ovarian
cancer and as I was now running the suggestion was that I run a race to raise
money for Cancer Research. So I ran a 10km race around
. All well and good but things have just escalated and here I am …….So, how
does a novice (oldish) runner go in four months from never running a race longer
than 6 miles to running 26, read the next episode…
here to go to the top of the page
very kindly allowed me to announce my intention to run in The London Marathon in
April 2005, and to attempt to “blag” some sponsorship outof my colleagues,
in the last edition of the newsletter,
has not unreasonably asked me to write a few words about my training to date.
since emerging from my occasional “stumble-around-the-block” to
slightly more regular running, I have come to realise that I have tapped into a
rich seam of Wyre Forest running culture, such
as the Wards, Millers, Newricks, Thompsons, Catchpoles, Hardwicks and Perrys of
this parish, to name only a few.
gradually cranking up to longer runs (19 today, Ombersley and back ) , and at
the beginning of December, Rachel Ward talked me into, and Alastair and Angie
Miller took me along to, the
Mortimer Forest Hill Race, just
outside Ludlow. This was my first outing in public, “playing with the big
boys.” It was very hilly, 10 miles
of mud, streams,
hills, forest tracks- (did I
mention hills?) . Exhilarating, but a step up from the plodding I had been used
to, and a foretaste of what I will be up against on “the big day.”
river bank in Bewdley, Trimpley reservoir, and the canal banks between Stourport
and Kinver are all becoming more familiar, and thanks are due to the forbearance
of the anglers as I come lumbering through the undergrowth, disturbing their
reverie, and to the bargees for providing encouraging shouts, and welcome
glasses of water in my usually gaspingly speechless and rather desperate state!
been hugely motivated by all the encouragement I’ve had with my “little
adventure”, not least by various,
oh yes, frightfully amusing remarks
about my ever more comfortable trousers. I’ve discovered pains in places I
didn’t know I had places, and have encountered the dreaded “jogger’s
of this has put me off, and I am extremely grateful to all those who have
sponsored me, and look forward to hearing from those who may have forgotten who
to make the cheque payable to! (“WellChild” – they’re a paediatric
charity who have given me a “golden bond” place to run what is the 25th
would of course be churlish not to mention also that Chris Catchpole is running
for the Multiple Sclerosis Resource centre, and Nigel Cockrell for Cancer
here to go to the top of the page
to the Archive index click here