Casualty then was sleeves rolled up, blood and muck to the knees, finger in the dyke stuff, and Saturday nights were like a war zone.
One night I was the only doctor on duty when the fight started, usually my signal to instantly flee (hey, someone had to tell the outside world). Go Tell the Spartans, I thought nobly, but unfortunately I had delayed too long, and the fight had already mushroomed and spilled throughout the department. All egress was blocked, what was a guy to do?
But learning to improvise is all part of a doctor's training.
I grabbed a baby from a cot and, holding it up like a talisman, began to thread my way through the mayhem, pausing only to wipe some blood from a passing meat-cleaver and smear it on my face. In those days, AIDS was only a distant rumour from the bathhouses of the west coast (GRIDs, it was called then) and the long-term risk of hep B was a poor second to the risk of brutal dismemberment.
'Watch out for the baby!' I shouted; the baby, obviously having read the script, and being a good baby, began to cry piteously.
Some conventions must be observed, and the fight parted round me like the Red Sea. Bursting through the doors into the main hospital, I realised a crowd had gathered, and that I cut a rather dashing figure. I also knew that a little bit of theatre was called for.
'Someone take the baby,' I said, with an air of weary heroism, 'I gotta go back in'.
Hands grabbed at me, just as I had planned.
'You can't go back in, it's madness, you're bleeding,' chanted the crowd.
'You don't understand,' I protested, the very picture of agonised and conflicted virtue, struggling to escape their clutches (but not struggling too hard), 'there may be more babies in there.'
'Don't worry, doctor,' said a nurse, looking at me with adoring eyes. 'You've done enough.'
Young and politically incorrect, I checked out her nubile young form. 'Maybe you're right,' I said.