Dulwich Hospital, late 1974 or early 1975. Teaching ward round led by Professor Sir Stanley Clayton, author of celebrated Obstetrics and Gynaecology undergraduate text. I was not the most diligent of students, but I turned up for everything. Osmosis works.
SC: Tell me, Mr Monkhouse, what do you know of the aetiology of pre-eclampsia?
SC: Well, perhaps you can tell me about its treatment.
SC: [we wore name badges] Mr Monkhouse, do you have a textbook?
Me: Yes, sir. Yours.
SC: Have you ever opened it?
Cambridge, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, early summer 1975, ‘final’ Obstetrics viva voce examination
Mr Michael Brudenell (examiner): Why might this lady know more about her condition than most?
Me: because she’s a librarian.
MB: Oh, very good. And what advice will you give her about feeding her baby?
MB: Tell me why.
Me: Because breast is best. Cow’s milk is for cows, and human’s milk is for humans. There’s no better reason.
MB: Haw, haw, haw. Well I think that’ll do. Off you go.
Examiner: Good morning. Take a seat. Which College?
Examiner: And which medical school?
Me: King’s [College Hospital Medical School, London].
Examiner: Haw, haw, a royal flush, eh?! Haw, haw.
After I’d picked myself up from rolling around on the floor in laughter, I was handed a radiograph of a wrist. There was a fracture of the base of the first metacarpal. God knows how I recognized it, but I did.
Me: Ah, a Bennett’s fracture.
Examiner: Very good. Pause. Tell me, who was Bennett?
Me, confidently: a nineteenth century Dublin surgeon.
Examiner, surprised: Oh. Pause. Quizzical look. Was he?
Me: I’ve no idea. I was guessing. There were so many nineteenth century Dublin surgeons, so the chances are good that he was.
Examiner: Haw, haw. Very good.
Ironic, in view of my subsequent history (there must be a God after all), but Bennett was a nineteenth century Dublin surgeon. And there were so many of them. I passed.