Thursday, 30 June 2011

Westminster Medical School re-union

Almost exactly one year ago we had a re-union of my former medical school colleagues. We had all begun in 1975 qualifying in 1978. I'm not entirely sure of the significance of a 33 year re-union, but I'm really glad it happened. I've only just got round to adding a before and after photo!

It was a surreal evening of multiple conversations and re-introductions. I think most of us had been a little anxious at the prospect of what 33 years may have done to our memories (and of course our physiques!), but it really didn't seem to matter. It was just delightful.

Sadly neither the medical school nor it's buildings remain in their former state,  the school has been incorporated into Imperial College and the buildings are now luxury flats. So all that's left is us and I suspect some of our teachers, the most inspirational of whom is Harold Ellis-still teaching anatomy at 84 years!

Pretty much without exception everyone I chatted to was still enjoying being a doctor. It did make me realise how lucky we all are, still enjoying the same job that we have done for 33 years. There had been remarkably little change in  personality, appearance or self-confidence although for me personally I felt a strange reversion to my somewhat reticent self. I preferred to spend the evening listening to others' stories rather than taking the floor myself.

There was an excellent turnout and about 55 of us out of 75 showed up. Made me realise how fortunate we were to be part of a small medical school unlike the huge numbers per year in modern schools. It was just such fun. Especially fascinating hearing the stories of Vaughan Nicholls, a GP in a largely native and poor community in Saskatchewan who whilst still single has over the last 25 years adopted about 10 lads  from the  local community, all of whom have been in trouble with the law and have had difficult upbringings. Amazing

Thursday, 23 June 2011

When life tumbles in what then?

Learn from an old Scottish preacher in the 1920s

*This was the first sermon preached after my wife’s dramatically sudden death.
Arthur John (AJ) Gossip, Beechgrove Church in Aberdeen, Scotland, 1927.

“If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with the horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?” Jer. xii. 5

Here is a man who, musing upon the bewilderments of life, has burst into God’s presence, hot, angry, stunned by His ordering of things, with a loud babble of clamorous protest. It is unfair, he cries, unfair! And frowningly he looks into the face of the Almighty. It is unfair! And then suddenly he checks himself, and putting this blunt question to it, feels his heart grow very still and very cold. For after all, he asks himself, what is it you have to complain about so far? Nothing that everybody does not share. Only the usual little rubs and frets and ills of life that fall to every one, no more. And if these have broken through your guard, pushed aside your religion, made you so sour and peevish and cross towards God – God help you, what will happen when, sudden as a shell screaming out of the night, some one of the great crashing dispensations bursts in your life, and leaves an emptiness where there had been a home, a tumbled ruin of your ordered ways, a heart so sore you wonder how it holds together? If you have caught your breath, poor fool, when splashing through the shallow waters of some summer brook, how will you fare when Jordan bursts its banks, and rushes, far as the eye can see, one huge, wild swirl of angry waters, and, your feet caught away, half choked, you are tossed nearer and nearer to the roaring of the falls, and over it? read the rest here

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Thanksgiving for mum

Yesterday we had the thanksgiving service for mum. It was comforting to see so many there who had known and loved her. It seems her sweet and gracious spirit had touched many peoples lives and the memory message cards were filled with comments on her loving thoughtfulness.

We read from her favourite Psalm 121. The words towards the close of that Psalm especially relevant,
'the Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forever more' 

The service sheet had some photos of mums early live and various quotes form her diaries. My tribute is here

Thank you Lord for a beautiful mum.

Friday, 3 June 2011


Celebrating our joint birthday last october
Just last night my dear mum passed away. She had battled non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for some years. She was a beautiful, generous person and I'm going to miss her so very much.

Mum's life has had lots of contact with doctors over the last six years or so. Not just contending with the lymphoma, but also having repeated surgery for a thoracic aortic aneurysm, and various other issues. Her oncologist was unfailingly kind and thoughtful and gave mum such confidence. She was genuinely fond of him and all the team at the Bedford Primrose unit. Most of mum's care featured great sensitivity and was a real credit to the much maligned and stretched NHS. Her care during her last week at the local Sue Ryder Hospice was truly heart-warming-in fact it was stunning and a great comfort to our family.

Living as a Christian is something mum has done since her early years. She had a simple trust in the Lord Jesus and his death and resurrection on our behalf. She had a reverence for God which lead to a very regular personal time in prayer and Bible reading. She was thoughtful in her faith, she would say to be me, "I've been thinking and praying about....and I really feel I should... " She lived out the practical implications of a living faith. It wasn't just 'churchgoing' or 'being a good person' for mum, it was living a life of gratitude to God for his grace.

Enjoying creation was typified by mum's love for her garden and her great love for people-and especially her family. She had quite a wonderful gift for friendship and even in later life kept up regular contact with so many people by her handwritten carefully scribed letters and notes. She was a  faithful and completely reliable friend to so many locally and until more recent frailty made it difficult, entertained a steady stream of people at her cosy welcoming home. If I say that everyone she met loved her you'll think I'm going all gooey and misty eyed (I cant deny the latter), but just ask anyone she knew.

A message from the other side

No, not that side! But thank God got through surgery ok yesterday. And thanks to all for love support and prayer.