Don't put me in a beauty show

I'm no longer a member of the RCGP. My membership lapsed some years ago, not because of any principle or because paying £300 a year to an organisation that had no relevance whatsoever to the real world seemed ridiculous when the money could be spent more profitably on drink and women, but because my direct debit lapsed (on account of me having no money) and I was too apathetic to bother about re-instating it.

Once again, in the bizarre world of general practice, apathy has proved to be a most rewarding and economic virtue.

Of course, I do miss it. I miss the jolly social evenings with the rest of the hail-fellow-well-met chaps, all those group hugs and wild parties — although maybe I’m confusing them with the Free Masons; my memory is kinda hazy... there was a lot of dope going around — I miss the intellectual stimulation, I miss the academic  cutting-edge buzz.

I don’t miss the British Journal of General Practice, however, because my partner remains a member, he being too apathetic to cancel his direct debit; is that ironic or what? 

Boy, does he love that journal. When it arrives in the surgery we have a wrestling match to see who has first sight of what the Dutch sociologists are barking on about this month. I usually win, because I’m bigger and meaner and consider myself an alpha male — physical intimidation is a much under-rated technique in general practice.

So, I still know what is going on, and the latest whiz from our local ‘faculty’, is a Doctor of the Year competition. The term ‘faculty’ is revealing; not committee, not collective, but faculty, the word implying a university-like gravitas, with visions of dreaming spires and pageantry and academic processions (the old boys just love wearing gowns, you know; can’t you see them posing in front of the mirror, don’t I look good in purple, they are thinking — listen pal, to the rest of us it just looks like you’re wearing a dress). I note that the judges will be ‘representative of RCGP NI, the sponsors, and independent management’; plenty of coalface GPs in there, then.

Am I the only one who considers this demeaning? Some kind of beauty contest? ‘I love children and I want to work for world peace.’ The award for going through this humiliating process consists of, wait for it, a specially engraved crystal trophy, a commemorative certificate and photograph, and a measly £200.

That will certainly help pay for your sister’s new kidney, if not quite enough, perhaps, for the annual membership fee. 

- Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh

Email him at

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