I’ve had better weeks…

21 Apr

MONDAY – 5.25am, the fat one comes down to take me for my morning walk.  “It’s raining cats and dogs lad” he says as he puts on those waterpoof trouser things and that huge anorak in the porch.  Does he think I’m stupid?  There are no cats out there and I’m the only dog around here.  I’m not that bothered about getting wet if I’m honest – true, it doesn’t do a lot for my fur coat (it’s real by the way, I don’t do faux) and the thin one spends more time grooming me than a randy priest in a vestry full of choirboys so what do I care?

I put my head out of my Jackdoor whilst he’s faffing-on with those huge boots – it’s really throwing it down out there but he looks like he’s about to dive the wreck of the Titanic not stroll up the lane and back.  “Come on, let’s get off!” I bark.

TUESDAY – there I am minding my own business (just sniffing the body of a dessicated toad I found near the pond) when this police dog comes to the gate.  Now I’ve met this lad before – he’s not much more than a pup (aren’t they getting younger these days?) and a bit officious if you ask me.  “Jack Shepherd?” he asks, I nod “there’s been a report of someone answering your description worrying sheep around here last Wednesday afternoon.”  I sigh – it wasn’t me, I’ve got an alibi – I was with the gardener from 12 ’til three and then the thin one came home.

We both know he’s got nothing to go on – he’s certainly not going to be feeling my collar.  Anyway, I can see from here he hasn’t got a lead.  I walk away and leave him to it.  Whoever heard of a Shepherd chasing sheep anyway?  I mean I might bark at the odd lamb if they get a bit too close to my fence, but that’s all.

WEDNESDAY – off to the vet’s again for this year’s jabs.  I don’t mind the vet as much as some of the others do – last time we visited there was this ferret going mad in a box – obviously I calmed him down.  I like ferrets: done slowly with a little garlic and some onion they’re very nice indeed.

Oh good, it’s Sarah Vet this afternoon, not that bloke.  I do like the ladies, but if I’m honest, not quite as much as I used to do before that time when I went home with a slightly sore undercarriage and the fat one was shown what looked like two boiled sweets in a jar.  Anyway, there’s lots of cuddles and “weren’t you braves?” so I’m happy enough.

THURSDAY – I hear back from Guide Dogs For The Blind: “Dear Mr Shepherd, many thanks for your application to be a guide dog for the blind.  I regret to inform you that at this time we are not seeking to recruit new colleagues.  We will however, be pleased to keep your name on file…” yeah, yeah, whatever.  I know the score.  Looks like it’s back to stacking shelves in Pets At Home.  Thought I might at least get an interview – mind you I did mess up that one for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf – they said I was over-qualified just because I signed a whole episode of Downton Abbey and apparently I was only supposed to put the subtitles on.

I suppose I’ve yet to hear back from Smelling Dogs for the Anosmic, so there’s still hope of a more fulfilling career.

FRIDAY – worst day of the lot.  Yesterday I hacked into the fat one’s account at Tesco.com and placed an order.  They finally delivered at 3.10pm and it’s so disappointing.  I’ll be honest, I was expecting a fat moggy I could build from scratch and then spend hours chasing round the garden.  Instead, I get this:

Sometimes life can deal you some hard knocks.  I suppose on the plus side I’ve still got a nice den, owners who love me, good food, lovely walks and lots of friends on the internet.  Do leave me a message below – it’s great to hear from you.

© Jack Shepherd, 2012.


Being a patient doesn’t come easily.

12 Apr

It’s 9.10 pm and I’m lying in bed roaring with laughter watching re-runs of Terry and June on UK Old when suddenly I notice that my heart is racing.  Surely this can only be a response to the raucous humour before me?  Whilst Terry and June continue mining comedy gold, I notice that my heart’s still beating with all the irregularity of a politician’s expenses claim. I’m not overly concerned about this because patients often complain of “palpitations” (which can mean just about anything) especially when they’re in the silence of the bedroom, he’s forgotten to take the Viagra and consequently she’s aware of no other distracting stimuli than the forceful contractions of her heart.  An ECG and a check of thyroid function is usually all that’s required coupled with much reassurance.

The following morning I’m consulting at work when my heart suddenly begins to feel like it’s leaping out of my chest.  An interesting patient problem, a fascinating diagnostic dilemma or any other pleasing alliterative anxiety, you ask?  Alas no, this is one of those: “I think my tablets might not be agreeing with me because this year’s daffodils are not what they have been” – type issues.  I begin to feel slightly faint and hurry to encourage my patient to leave by promising to stop their simvastatin if the crocuses suffer a similar paucity of efflorescence and dash upstairs for the event monitor.

Clamping the little device to my heaving bosom I record the kind of ECG trace which is so abnormal that a first year medical student wearing a blindfold would be hard pressed to miss.  I fax the trace (anonymously) through to our local Consultant Cardiologist who rings in person two minutes later (never a good sign) to enquire if it’s my heart that’s beating to the rhythm of a former Soviet state’s national anthem.  “I’ll see you at 12.30 tomorrow Nick and in the meantime if it happens again and you feel at all unwell, it’s 999.”  Terrific.

The following day I’m waiting in Cardiology when one of my own patients appears for his pacemaker check.  “I didn’t know you had heart problems doctor?” he enquires pulling out a spiral reporter’s notebook and a dictaphone ready to return to the village and publish his astonishing discovery as an exclusive in the parish magazine.  There is worse to come as I lie on the examination couch having an ECG and echocardiogram; I reluctantly accept that I have now crossed to the other side, no longer am I wearing the tweed jacket (with the pleasing coordinating tie featuring country scenes) I am stripped to the waist and covered in ultrasound jelly: I am a PATIENT.

I am shunted into another room where a technician (who is clearly delighted that she has been asked to forgo ten minutes of her lunch break – and who can blame her?) roughly shaves my chest in readiness for fitting a 48 hour ambulatory ECG.  Wielding the razor with all the finesse of a drunken sheep shearer she takes hair and a couple of millimetres of skin for good measure before reaching for the bottle of (presumably) concentrated acid to “remove any grease from your skin otherwise the pad won’t stick.”  We finish with her (quite literally) sanding down the now viciously stinging area before applying the electrodes.  Spotting the Black & Decker nail gun I wonder if she’ll go the whole hog and staple them in place but thankfully after a few cursory instructions she sends me on my way, my portable black box recording my every heartbeat.

Over the next couple of weeks the trace is analysed and I’m treated to an exercise tolerance test. I stand on the treadmill, displaying the injuries sustained from the ambulatory tracing and looking like a stigmatic on Good Friday before being treated to an ever increasing workload as the speed and slope of the treadmill are increased every few minutes.  It is negative and I breathe a sigh of relief as the consultant informs me that it’s probably been a viral infection of my pericardium triggering runs of fast atrial fibrillation.  I need no further investigation or treatment unless I fancy a trial of beta-blockers.  I don’t.

I hadn’t been especially worried if I’m honest, having suspected this diagnosis from the start, but it was sobering to be on the other side of the fence for a while.  Doctors don’t consider that they will ever make the transition to patient, we see ourselves as somehow immune from illness and disease and for the first time in years I have some insight into what it is to be the recipient rather than the donor.  I’m grateful that this potentially worrying symptom was promptly and thoroughly investigated, my only complaint being that the scars from the 48 hour monitor stayed with me for over two years and seriously dented my chances of gaining that lucrative modelling contract for Calvin Klein’s new GP country underwear range.  I suppose, under the circumstances, I should be thankful that I don’t have life-limiting heart disease (and that I managed to land the job of creative consultant on the forthcoming Terry and June The Movie).

“By gum, that got them going” – Jack tells the story of his oral tumour.

6 Apr

So a couple of weeks back, they give me my food and I think to myself: “OK, presentation’s good, I like what you’ve done with the arrangement of the biscuits even if your choice of the stainless steel serving dish is a bit de rigueur.  It’s seasonal, the garnish of the glucosamine tablet is a bit sloppy, but on the whole – not a bad effort”.  I’m sitting there just enjoying the moment, ready to tuck in when I hear the fat one say:

“He’s not eating his food again, come on lad, get it!” – can’t a shepherd take it slowly and savour his breakfast?  I mean come on, I’m not a labrador.  Eventually, I start.  Hmm, it’s crunchy, well-seasoned, tastes fresh – maybe a little too heavy on the beef flavouring in the glucosamine, but otherwise – I like it, it’s not quite fine dining, but it shows promise.  I wash it down with a bowl of springwater and everyone’s happy.

Everyone except the thin one that is who comes home at lunchtime and offers me a treat – one of those dry biscuit things that’s supposed to contain vitamins.  I’m not fussy, but I put it down in the hope that he’ll offer me something else instead – maybe a little of the skin from his smoked mackerel fillet?  Next thing I know he’s got the camera out, I’m on my side on the lawn and he’s prodding around in my mouth like a cross between a mad dentist and a paparazzo.

Now I know I’ve got this little thing on my top gum, but it doesn’t hurt, it’s never bled and frankly, who cares?  The next thing I know it’s Saturday morning and I’m in the vet’s – just chatting with a retriever who reckons she’s pregnant (at her age?) and then I hear the vet’ say: “No, I’m afraid it’s a tumour, it needs to come out.  Well yes, it could be malignant, we can send it off and see what comes back.  Bring him on Wednesday, about 8.30, no breakfast.”

What?  Hope he’s not talking about me – I’d promised to bark at those lambs in the next door field on Wednesday, I haven’t got the time to be having surgery.  Anyway, the fat one’s looking worried and I see him speaking to the thin one in hushed tones back at home.  Then there’s the usual cuddles, but accompanied by worried looks – and promises to ‘look after me no matter what’ and all that dross.  I walk into the kitchen and they stop talking – “It’s OK I know you’re on about me again, we need a chat, now just what is all this abou…  oh, you’re trimming some bacon?  Don’t mind if I do, cheers.”

Wednesday.  Where’s my breakfast?  Never mind, looks like we’re going somewhere in the car.  FANTASTIC.  Oh, it’s the vet’s – yes, I’d forgotten.  NOT fantastic.  Still, this young nurse is OK, yep, smells friendly, I’m very happy to follow you love, after I’ve just put this boxer in his place: “growl, bark, BARK, GROWL.”  Oh, they’re trimming the fur on my leg – “no, I’ve no holidays planned and I’m not sure if the family are coming for Easter yet” – gosh, I’m sleepy.  Hang on, what’s this, the fat one’s stroking my head and coaxing me out of the back of the car.  Oops, back legs not working very well, hang on.  Gosh, I’m hungry.  Oh, I’m back at the den, that’s nice.  And… wait for it, yes, I’m asleep again.

Thursday and Friday are spent with lots of cuddles and lengthening walks – the weather’s fantastic and I’m loving the way these lambs bolt out of the way when they see the big hairy beast coming down the lane – accompanied by me of course.  Let me tell you, after very little to eat on Wednesday, Royal Canin’s never tasted so good.

Saturday – I’m minding my own business just dozing on my bed in the conservatory and watching Carol Kirkwood talking about the weather on that big bright box thing in the corner when the ‘phone rings.  The thin one picks it up and I see his face crack into a smile: “That’s fantastic,” he says, “so it’s definitely benign then?”  Lots of fuss and affection later and they’re opening a big green bottle and pouring fizzing stuff into tall thin glasses.

They’re all over me so I roll onto my side and lift my foreleg up (they seem to like stroking my chest so I indulge them).  “Yeah, yeah, get off,” I say, “I’m sure you are delighted, but I never had any doubts.  Don’t mind if I do have a celebratory biscuit, but if you’re in the mood and it’s not too much trouble, I’d much rather have a bit of that smoked mackerel if there’s any left.”

Jack Shepherd is a freelance canine journalist and best-selling author of : “It’s a dog’s life: getting the best out of your soft, ridiculous owners who love you like a child.”

Saturday night TV

30 Mar

I love Saturday night TV.  Time was, when as a junior doctor those of us not on-call would all make for the local night club in our market town.  For those who haven’t experienced the pleasures of North Yorkshire’s premier night spot, you’ve not missed a lot – not since the live recording of An Audience With Kim Jong-Il have so many people had so much “fun” at the same time in one place.  It always struck me that come midnight, this particular venue was not unlike Freddie Flintoff’s crotch on the afternoon of a July test-match – a hot sweaty box with lots of pointless bumping and grinding going on.

Nowadays of course, I’m far too old to even consider attending night clubs.  Firstly, being close to pension age (at least in the eyes of the local teens) we’d attract a great deal of negative attention, and secondly I could easily fracture a hip in that difficult moment when your foot sticks to the floor in the pool of spilt WKD.  So Saturday nights are no longer for going out (unless it’s a sedate dinner party when the conversation reaches the dizzying heights of whether to go for the Antony Worrall Thompson frying pans or the Tefal) – they’re for Saturday night TV.

I should make it clear, that the Saturday TV-fest is by no means a disappointing way to spend part of your weekend.  With the return of Britain’s Got Talent you can watch a whole studio full of people making fools of themselves on national TV.  This is followed by the marvelous Take Me Out where you can watch a whole studio full of people making fools of themselves on national TV.  The joy.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I particularly enjoy the misguided antics of others, it’s just nice that someone else is doing it rather than me for a change.

B’s Got T is all the better for the return of Simon Cowell (top tip: watch for those teeth when he smiles – it’s like being back on the Golden Mile at Blackpool Illuminations on a dull November evening).  Mr Cowell has the approach of a Dyno-Rod employee – he cuts through all the crap and flushes out the rubbish – of which there is a lot.   I particularly enjoy the really bad acts (though on a serious note, I do wish they’d screen out the entrants with obvious mental health issues).  The programmes are edited so that there’s at least a couple of routines per show who are so incredible that they bring a tear to the eye and you just know they’ll be in the final.

Take Me Out on the other hand has no such redeeming features, being 100% trite.  If you’ve not encountered this particular show, in summary, Peter Kay – sorry, my mistake, Paddy McGuinness jokes: “let the hamburger see the bun” resulting in a hapless youth descending the “love lift” to face thirty young women who decide through various ‘rounds’ whether or not they fancy an all-expenses paid trip to a Syrian beech resort called “Fernandos”.  Each girl stands behind a lighted podium which she can switch off at any time – “no likey, no lighty”, quips McGuinness.  The whole spectacle is reminiscent of walking past Smithfield Meat Market first thing in the morning.  Probably one of the worst game shows ever made, I absolutely love it and would pay my license fee if this was the only thing on TV ever.  Don’t bother ringing on Saturday nights when TMO’s on – the ‘phone’s not.

Of course, we tell ourselves that we watch these shows to make cutting witticisms to each other about their contestants – as Churchill might have said: “never in the field of light entertainment has such little talent been shared by so many.”  We sit with our feet up, a glass of Blue Nun in one hand, the Argos Catalogue in the other (open at frying pans), desperately diving for the mute button on the remote control when the Go Compare ad’ airs in the breaks.

Gone for us are the days of strutting our stuff at Club Adiemus, instead we’ve resorted to catch-phrase based humour for our weekend fix.  We watch as Paddy ascends the love lift at the end of the show, announcing for another week that “it’s lights out, all out” before we jump on the stairlift and tell our significant other to make sure the standard lamp’s switched off.


Monday mornings and irritable GPs

23 Mar

Pulling the car into the Health Centre on Monday morning I was more than a little startled to see a queue of patients waiting to check in to my early surgery.  At least a dozen individuals were present, some of whom had been seen but a short while previously (for example I had ministered to Mrs Fenton-Wicket’s troublesome unstable angina only November last, and old John couldn’t possibly be in need of  more oxygen – why, it was surely only July that I prescribed his previous cylinder?).

I have observed on many occasions that the beginning of the week has a strange effect on the populace of Foxton Northfield (for those unacquainted with the area, our small market town lies just to the south of Upper Polyp in the shadow of the Asbestos-Plaque Hills) – perhaps a weekend’s recreation stirs something in the humors effecting a deep desire to consult with a General Practitioner before Monday morning is out?

Striding purposefully into  my consulting room I consulted the ledger revealing the morning’s list.  The stories of some of my more interesting patients I recount below (having extracted the entries I made in their medical record) – you will appreciate that for reasons of confidentiality, I have changed my clients’ names so as to render them unrecognisable:

08:10  My first of the day, Mr J Woss – emergency enema administered by Practice Nurse to remove large object from rectum – turned out to be own head.  (Nasty).

09:20  Mr G Osbourne – the man wept bitterly, almost inconsolable that his pet budgie had been received so badly last week by all but the local millionaires who had been cautiously welcoming.

09:40 Mrs E Windsor – came for travel advice since embarking upon large tour of UK towns and cities.  Obviously disappointed that a fit note annotated “work-related stress” excusing her from a trip to this year’s Royal Variety Performance was not forthcoming.  Stormed out to waiting personal train.

10:10 Mr Bryce Forsuth – requested referral for NHS wig owing to current one being terribly unrealistic.  Also had large abscess – but insisted on trying antibiotics rather than attending our local Surgical ward for incision and drainage.  Reluctantly agreed, but if not better on Monday then strictly to come for lancing.  District nurse Tess to visit Daley.

10:30  Mr Nick Cleff – 20 cigarettes per day.  Given smirking cessation advice.

10:40 Anne D Lansleigh complains of difficulty hearing of late.  It seems that despite those around resorting to ever more forceful communication, has exhibited an increasing tendency to inattention.  We can but thank God that not employed in a position of responsibility where could perhaps cause significant and irreparable harm.

Thus it was, that my morning passed with these characters interspersed with the usual questions from the worried well.  I rounded the morning off with a visit from a drug company representative, selling a novel new diabetic therapy (acupuncture using needles dipped in insulin – purely “natural”) before heading off in the afternoon to see my gastroenterologist.


For some time now, as regular readers will be aware, I have suffered a consortia of symptoms such as nausea, lassitude and afternoon planning meetings featuring cramps and shifting dullness.  Finally, it seems that, despite the lack of diagnostic tests available (and certainly ineffective and unrealistic management strategies) the diagnosis is clear:  I have irritable GP syndrome.

© 2012

The stories and patients referred to in this (and other) blogs are totally fictional.  This blog is intended for comedic purposes only.

Psychothyroidism – Underactivity of the clairvoyant gland

16 Mar

“My sister’s clairvoyant told me to come and see you because there’s something not right with my thyroid,” said the worried-looking patient.  I search for the smile and wait for the hearty laugh to let me know this is an elaborate joke, but alas, my worst fears are realised as it dawns on me that she’s absolutely serious.

Now I don’t spend my weekends in a caravan at the seaside  surrounded by signed pictures of Ken Dodd and The Krankies moonlighting as a palm reader, but even I could have predicted the outcome of this particular consultation. In short, there was nothing wrong with her and her bloods returned normal results. I happily broke the news a week down the line, seeking to reassure my troubled service-user who simply replied: “Well, we’ll have to keep an eye on it Doctor, because it will happen, I know it will.”

Perhaps I should be absolutely honest and tell you that I am fascinated by anything to do with psychics and mystics and magic and suggestion and I would love it to be true, but (in my humble opinion) it’s nothing more than a load of [crystal] balls.

A couple of years back we went from work to see a clairvoyant perform, sorry, my mistake: “give a demonstration” of his mentalism act, sorry my mistake again “psychic abilities” in a run down motel. We arrived half an hour before the proceedings and were met by someone doing a passable impersonation of a former member of Agadoo (remember when we all pushed pineapples and shook that tree?). Yes it was 1980s hair and spray-tan a go-go. Having had to pre-book, the four of us were carefully crossed off the list (ringing warning bells yet?) and the number ’4′ was placed next to the name.

For the next two hours (with an interval in which we were offered the fabulous opportunity to purchase his books and CDs) we were treated to: “He’s only recently passed, hasn’t he?” (to the obvious widow shaking with emotion clutching a handkerchief in one hand and a sheaf of photographs in the other), and “I’m getting June, somewhere over here” [points to whole room] “it could be a name, or a date, or it could be May?”. To be honest, I do him something of a disservice – it was both a very slick performance (for the most part) and a brilliant demonstration of the art of cold reading.

Is it fair to exploit the vulnerable like this at a time of bereavement?  Is it justifiable because it gives them comfort? Who am I to judge?  (To enter, text your answer A, B or C to 81888 – remember, entries received after death will not be counted, but may still be charged).

On the other hand, perhaps a oujia board for antibiotic requests would be helpful in a couple of years or so for those difficult consultations when Jocasta’s been sent home from prep’ school yet again with one of her highly contagious conjunctivitides. We could perhaps use it to make contact with the ghost of a once great NHS (thanks to the antics of your friend and mine Mr Lansley) to point to the word “NO” followed by “Goodbye”.

What, you’re thinking that Andy L won’t ruin your NHS?  “Well, we’ll have to keep an eye on it, because it will happen, I know it will.”  It’s written in The Star.

What should the well-dressed GP be wearing in 2012?

10 Mar

There was a time when the rural GP sported little other than three-piece tweed suits, country shirts and ties bearing pictures of pheasants.  I suppose I must admit that in my case it might be more accurate to say that there are days when I don’t.

Clothing is important to patients too – only this week a professional wrestler attended full of apologies because “I’ve come straight from work and didn’t have time to change”.  I used to joke with clients that I was an expert in fashion until I noticed that I’d started to attract the odd look of incredulity – in short, some people didn’t realise I was pulling their leg.  One eleven year-old scoffed loudly and looked at her mother as if to say: “and who exactly does he think he’s kidding?” much to the embarrassed parent’s chagrin.

So this last Sunday fortnight when Feakins, my valet, was laying out my clothes following my morning tepid bath (I favour a warm dip in the morning to start the day and a longer, hotter one of an evening for purposes of relaxation) I asked him for his thoughts on the matter.  After not inconsiderable consideration, the following week he suggested one or two changes (which we trialled) and which I am pleased to exhibit here for your delectation.


“Might I suggest, sir that we don’t startle the patients unduly and simply begin the week, with a minimal alteration?  I was thinking perhaps of a little aural adornment.”

I grant you that it was an interesting concept, and it certainly caused something of a stir – after all the addition of a little facial hair following a fortnight’s holiday two years ago is still discussed around the village and its propriety remains a topic of rapt interest at coffee mornings for those of a certain age.

Several of my more discerning clients spotted the bejewelled ear immediately – the thinly-veiled looks of disgust telling me all I needed to know.  I dispensed with the item without further delay.


“Perhaps a nod to modernity might be in order this morning sir?” opined Feakins vigorously brushing my vicuña overcoat from last night’s trip to the operetta.

I must confess to having felt less than comfortable today.   The reasons for this being twofold.  In the first instance, Mrs Clarke-Harris (generalised OA and recalcitrant BV) made it plain in no uncertain terms that she disapproved by telephoning our local Department of Mental Health and attempting to arrange to have me committed to an asylum – fortunately nothing came of this since the Approved Social Worker had himself been Sectioned earlier in the day and was thus unavailable.  Secondly, resisting the tremendous urge to hoist the sagging pantaloons rostrally was almost more than I could bear.  In short, it was not a happy pairing.


My day off (and Feakins’ too – always a trial) and lacking help from my dresser I simply opted for a pyjama day.  All went simply swimmingly until the gamekeeper insisted I accompany him to the henhouse to witness at first hand the devastation wrought the previous evening by an especially vehement fox.  The ensuing cold in my nether regions being nothing less than vexatious to my flagging spirit.


“I regret sir, that my previous sojourns into the sartorial have caused you not inconsiderable discomfiture, but by fortuitous happenstance I came across a splendid outfit yesterday and took the liberty…”

Altogether more “me” I felt.  Indeed the day passed without incident until Mrs Templeton-Smethurst (terrible haemorrhoids – one could weep for the woman) berated me without mercy for offering her smoking cessation advice whilst being in possession of an especially fine cheroot myself.  Frankly, I fail to see the link, but there you are – and as I often impart to junior colleagues: patients can be unfathomable on occasion.  This, coupled with the somewhat embarrassing incident where the lighted cigarillo almost set fire to my remaining hair (owing to the flammability of the macassar oil) was sufficient to cause me to reconsider what had otherwise been a promising rig-out.  (Communicating my displeasure to Feakins that evening during his weekly removal of my omphalolith – look it up – I could have sworn that he hastily pocketed what looked like a letter of resignation).


Feakins said little as he wielded the pomander gently dusting my freshly-bathed and naked self with the baby powder.  Handing me my undergarments I fancied he was nothing less than furtive, his eyes staring blankly at the Italian marble floor.  Making my way through to the dressing room, I spied today’s garments freshly pressed and awaiting me on the bed.

I will not pretend that I was nothing less than relieved than that the week was drawing to an end and finally I was to be permitted to present myself to the world as I might wish.  It was true that  the plus fours resulted in a little chafing around the gatrocnemiae but in short, I was comfortable and more relaxed in this particular garb.

It has however, not been without its trials: I have not seen Feakins since and no-one in the village or on the estate seems to be able to apprise me of his whereabouts.  On the plus side however, in 2012 one does feel that this represents the image that the young General Practitioner ought to be presenting to those in his care: dependability and yet a willingness to move with the times.