Liam Farrell: Letting down the profession, sexually speaking

Readers of this column will know of my distaste for vulgarity. Stephen Fry, Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward, these great men were my chief influences; the droll spoof, the dry wit, the little bon mot, the biting satire. But I was not always so sophisticated.

In our final year as GP trainees, our course director organised a seminar on STIs. Of all the specialties that have seen their sun come up, surely genitourinary medicine must feel the most favoured. It was formerly a rather furtive, half-amateur discipline, until AIDS appeared, confirming that every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.

Overnight every region needed a GUM consultant; they became media darlings, icons of sanctity with a frisson of sexual excitement, the cutting edge of science blended to an intoxicating cocktail with trendy, liberal values. But there weren't any GUM consultants then, so our speaker was a rather earnest male nurse specialist, and the first thing he did, without any warning, was put up a very large and graphic slide of the human penis.

Consider his audience for a moment; we were mature final year trainees, a more sober and respectable group could hardly be envisaged. But when the slide went up, even those of us half asleep at the back of the class (as was our wont) got a bit of a shock. As the shock wore off, the sniggers started. Our speaker ignored them and started his presentation in a lugubrious monotone. 'That's one big knob,' someone whispered, and the sniggering became infectious; it rose and rose in an ever-greater wave.

Of course it was embarrassing and infantile, but please understand our plight; all the time we were staring at that giant penis. Faces were going red, noses were being held, eyes were watering; keeping in the belly-laugh demanded a Herculean effort. I tried my best, but eventually I could take it no longer and made a bolt for the door. The other trainees saw my escape attempt and some of them joined me in the rush.

But I got there first, closed the door behind me, and then, in a flash of inspiration, held it closed and listened with satisfaction to the frantic scrabbling on the other side.

It may have seemed disloyal to my colleagues, but as Oscar Wilde said, a true friend stabs you in the front.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

RCGP criticises GP at Hand video showing antibiotics prescribed for sore throat

RCGP criticises GP at Hand video showing antibiotics prescribed for sore throat

A promotional video for Babylon GP at Hand that shows a patient with a sore throat...

Submit your session ideas for the RCGP Annual Conference 2019

Submit your session ideas for the RCGP Annual Conference 2019

GPs can now submit ideas for sessions at the RCGP Annual Conference in Liverpool,...

Scottish GP workforce increases for first time in 10 years, figures show

Scottish GP workforce increases for first time in 10 years, figures show

GP numbers in Scotland have risen slightly for the first time in 10 years despite...

More than 16m GP practice appointments a year lost to DNAs

More than 16m GP practice appointments a year lost to DNAs

More than 16m appointments at GP practices are lost every year because patients fail...

Six ways GPs can help patients with asthma to stay well this winter

Six ways GPs can help patients with asthma to stay well this winter

Up to 26,000 people could be hospitalised with asthma this winter. GP and Asthma...

Red flag symptoms: Hirsutism

Red flag symptoms: Hirsutism

There are a number of possible causes for this symptom, explains Dr Pipin Singh