Doctors are one of those rare breed of people that you never really want to meet professionally. The International Society of Amiable Doctors may be aghast to learn this news, but essentially all we want to know about the medical profession is that once qualified, a doctor will remain in his room, in his white coat, leaving only when required to save a life. It would seem however, that in over 40 years in the profession, Bill ‘Doctor Lark’ Larkworthy, failed to find his allotted office. The chap collects anecdotes like shoes collect sand, from London’s old Charing Cross Hospital (unclaimed human ear found on the Tube) to his RAF days in Penang (Gurkha’s beheading buffaloes) to an altogether different life in Saudi (which eventually involved prison time, but we will get to that shortly), culminating in a move to Dubai and the formation of the Dubai London Clinic, that much-loved establishment down at Jumeirah.
Essentially a rich tapestry of anecdotes, held together with a few medical history lessons on the likes of the first Professor of Surgery, Sir Robert Liston, Larkworthy’s strength is also his weakness; while each anecdote is delivered with the same sparkling humour, be it exploring the Empty Quarter in the days before GPS, to personally assisting King Khalid of Saudi Arabia, one can’t help thinking he missed a trick with the main event, that is – the Saudi incarceration after offending a senior official. Had Bill been a journalist, rather than the world’s most entertaining doctor, he would undoubtedly have written a book entitled Seven Days of Hell in a Saudi Sing Sing and made a small fortune from the television rights.
As it is, reading this book is probably much like sitting with Bill himself, a nice, gentle meander down a remarkably pleasant memory lane, albeit a lane littered with RAF shenanigans and the occasional lost ear.
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