Liam Farrell: There is always time for reflection

I love the autumn; it appeals to my sense of guilt.

All those long summer evenings when I should have been doing something, but somehow never got round to doing it (I blame my Catholic upbringing, we specialise in guilt, but then I blame it for everything, especially my sexual perversity).

Instead I can look forward to what Ratty and Moley would have described as midwinter's homely comforts - a season of rich beds and bright fires, sitting in a comfortable armchair with a cup of hot cocoa while the wind howls outside and raindrops spatter on the window-pane as if their source was an old man with a prostate the size of a grapefruit; reading the great Russian novelists or surfing online porn.

House calls are a joy at this time of year. Today I drove along leaf-strewn country lanes as the woods turned to shimmering gold, spiderwebs festooning the hawthorns, besparkled with morning dew.

On impulse, I stopped and got out, ignoring the old woman in a black pointy hat who walked past, giving me the evil eye; witches or not, they still don't like being refused an antibiotic for their 'awful' cold. I leaned on a roadside fence to have a moment of reflection, a brief time for tranquillity, after a morning surgery that had been like a series of collisions.

Somewhere a lonely curlew called, or possibly it was a badger - I'm a little hazy on zoology. All was quiet, a peaceful, almost Arcadian scene (although most Arcadian scenes include nymphs and satyrs having a great time, if you know what I mean).

I wouldn't have been a bit surprised if Yeats had popped up from behind a bush, gently wittering on about fairies: 'I am lone Lady Quietness, my sweet/And on this loomband I weave thy destiny.'

This is what we do, I thought, we stand between the candle and the star, between the darkness and the people it would devour. And we fight the long defeat in the hope we can make things better for someone else, if not always for ourselves.

And then I thought, I should really be getting on with that emergency call.

  • Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell.

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