I approached the lunch table tentatively. ‘May I join you?’ I said on day one of my holiday. ‘Of course’ a very jolly man replied as he filled up the wine glasses for everyone. ‘We’re all anaesthetists here – attending a conference for a few days. What do you do?’ After some hesitation I said the first thing that came into my head: ‘Oh! When I think of your profession, Michael Jackson instantly springs to mind’. Without skipping a beat, June said ‘Well of course, he wouldn’t have died if he’d had a qualified anaesthetist administering the Profopol – in fact that’s the only person that should have been taking care of him. It just wouldn’t have happened’. I felt fresh anguish at the passing of Michael.
After a summer of frivolous enjoyment, here I was finally surrounded by a concentration of intelligent life with conversation that meant something – and couched in some of the wittiest humour I’d experienced in a while. Club Med usually says sun, fun and Crazy Signs for me – but this time its very culture was heightened by a welcome influx of medical know how and underlying sharpness – sharp as a pin in fact, or perhaps in this instance – a needle. If someone had suddenly shouted ‘Is there a doctor in the house?’ Over a hundred pairs of hands would have been raised.
Good company was everywhere to be found and I made the most of it. The conversation continued in the bar before dinner that night: ‘I’m a redhead’, I said, ‘I feel pain much more than others’. ‘Oh we know’ Nick replied, ‘In fact you bleed a lot more too…. and whenever we get a redhead in they usually vomit before they go under, during, and then after the Op.’ ‘Stop! I don’t want to know any more!’ I cried.
A few hours later, I was three Caipiroskas down trying to keep up with my new friends – but this was almost an impossibility. I was reminded of my GP cousin who had regaled me with tales of legendary party exploits as a medical student, and now here I was surrounded by what would have been her peer group – all ‘grown up’ and dancing to Moves Like Jagger. And boy did they have them.
The next day with one of the worst hangovers I’d had in ages I sat down for lunch next to a foursome. ‘Where’s your party posse today?’ one of them asked, swiftly followed by: ‘And, by the way, why do you only hang out with the consultants?’ I told them I had no idea who anyone was let alone of the hierarchy – I was just here on holiday. ‘ Well, we’re all junior doctors’ one of the men replied, ‘they usually throw us a few coins at the beginning of the week – I’ll explain it all later this evening over drinks’. I groaned and said I couldn’t possibly do it all over again.
Stopping by June’s table on my way out of the restaurant, I mentioned my hangover and then said ‘But what I really want to know is – have any of you got anything to mend a broken heart?’
She looked me directly in the eyes, touched my shoulder and we talked for a while. She told me that unfortunately there was no ‘cure’, it would just take time. ‘The Crazy Signs must be very therapeutic – you’ve got the right idea there’ her husband chipped in. ‘And, as for the hangover’ June added, ‘ A glass of bubbly mixed with orange juice – you need the vitamin C – is the best remedy: Trust me I’m a doctor’. And I do.