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The artist with the needle

This was the flattering but largely accurate description of my late father who as a doctor rose to prominence for vaccination.

He inoculated the Royals, England’s football team, the Royal Opera company, symphony orchestras and Harold Macmillan whom he much admired.

He found Macmillan to be a decisive man when it came to inoculation but that other post-war Tory grandee Rab Butler a ditherer.

Literally thousands unrolled their arm every year at the Hospital of Tropical Diseases where he was Chief Vaccination Officer.

With typical humour and humility he said he owed his position not to any innate ability but that most of his cleverer colleagues went off to the tropics to research and never come back whilst my father never strayed too far from St Pancras Way.

There was some truth he said in the quip of his favorite comedian Victor Borge:

My father was a brilliant doctor. He invented a cure for which there was no disease. Sadly he died of the cure.”

After he retired they tripled the medical staff in his department and inoculated half as many. Welcome to the NHS.

I mention this as this week I have had to take up a syringe – not, I hasten to add, as I have some drug addiction – but my beloved cat Cassius has been diagnosed with diabetes requiring twice-daily injections.

As so often happens this could not have happened at a worse time with Polly in the USA and others, whom I thought might help, cannot.

Fortunately a kind neighbour I scarcely knew stepped up to the plate and can fill in and inject insulin in my absence. The vet gave me tuition in what to do but, came the moment when I filled the syringe and injected it into Cassius’ fur, I was more nervous than he. However after a few times I became experienced if not exactly an artist.

Like father, not like son.

About Robert Tickler

A man of financial substance, Robert has a wide range of interests and opinions to match. More Posts