Dr Hairy’s Casebook, Part 5

Part 5 of Dr Hairy’s Casebook is now available online, featuring fictional cases on the following subjects:

  • Digestive health
  • Care of people who misuse drugs and alcohol
  • Care of people with ENT oral and facial problems

Dr Hairy’s Casebook is an attempt to bring the RCGP’s GP Curriculum to life, by illustrating each chapter with one or more fictional but true-to-life case. To find out more, click here .

The NetArtizens Project and Isla Del Hierro Virtual

The Furtherfield organisation is currently running a project called NetArtizens, about what it means to be an artist and a citizen of the Net. There are lots of interesting posts about this on the NetBehaviour discussion-list, and one of the most striking contributions so far is a set of images by Paul Hertz called Isla Del Hierro Virtual . He describes them as

‘a series of glitched images of the Island of Hierro in the Canary Islands, captured form Google Street View. I lived on that island for a while in the 1970s, when the only way to get there was by boat four times a week. International communication was by a special phone in the Central Telefónica. It was really far away. Now it is so close by I can visit it by internet any time I want.’

For ‘glitched’ read ‘corrupted, either accidentally or deliberately’.

Dr Hairy’s Research Summaries, February 2015

For more about Dr Hairy’s Research Summaries, visit http://www.drhairy.org/concrete5/index.php/research-summaries/ . Subjects covered this time:

Margaret McCartney: Don’t be bullied into prescribing Tamiflu

BMJ 2015;350:h417

The General Medical Council and doctors’ financial interests

BMJ 2015;350:h474

Weight change and risk of fracture in postmenopausal women

BMJ 2015;350:h60

The drooling child

BMJ 2015;350:h38

Margaret McCartney: Industry’s interest in diagnosing more dementia

BMJ 2014;349:g7480

Is it a stroke?

BMJ 2015;350:h56

Long working hours are linked to risky alcohol consumption

BMJ 2015;350:g7800

How much is too much breast screening?

BMJ 2015;350:h139

Type 2 diabetes and risk of cancer

BMJ 2015;350:g7707

Quantifying and monitoring overdiagnosis in cancer screening: a systematic review of methods

BMJ 2015;350:g7773

Should doctors encourage patients to record consultations?

BMJ 2015;350:g7645

From Jack Saturday, 20/2/15

In a tarpaper cabin Dad rough-carpentered into livability on an abandoned Indian reservation on Schooner Cove, Long Beach, Vancouver Island in 1956, to a crackling woodstove fire and coal-oil lanterns, with the roar of the Pacific surf always present and wild robins and raucous blue jays loud in the deep forest behind the cabin – age 4 and 5, curled up in pajamas against my mother’s warmth as she read us three kids poems with lines like:



By the shining Big-Sea-Water,

Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,

Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.

Dark behind it rose the forest,

Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,

Rose the firs with cones upon them;

Bright before it beat the water,

Beat the clear and sunny water,

Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

There the wrinkled old Nokomis

Nursed the little Hiawatha,

Rocked him in his linden cradle,

Bedded soft in moss and rushes,

Safely bound with reindeer sinews;

Stilled his fretful wail by saying,

“Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!”

Lulled him into slumber, singing,

“Ewa-yea! my little owlet!


My mother’s voice bringing magical cadence and invoking visions in a magic land before schools brought all that down.


But what inspired me to learn to read was my mother’s reading aloud of the Classics Illustrated comic The Time Machine, based on the H. G. Wells story.




Robert Bly said: “On the level of one to ten, it’s about a two to read great works on the spirit from the page. On the level of one to ten, it’s like a nine to hear a human being speak it, especially one you love – that brings the spirit inside the house, inside the family, inside your genetic line.”


I wanted two things: a tape recorder so that I could record my mother reading that wonderful story, and the ability to read it myself. So I was ahead of the game when I started school. I started on books at 8 or 9, and got my first tape recorder at 11. Now I work and play with recordings of the living voices of people more than I read text, though of course I will never give that up. I think digital media has re-opened and universalized a path to oral forms (both oratory and reading aloud) that links us again past Gutenberg and Plato with the pre-Socratics and shamanism.


I went to see my Mum yesterday. I’ve come to the conclusion that you can calibrate the extent of her muddle-headedness by the number of clips she’s got in her hair. She never used to wear any, or not of the plainly-visible silvery variety anyway, but in the last couple of years they’ve started to appear, and it’s noticeable that when she’s in a state of confusion she forgets to wash or brush her hair, and tries to make up for it by putting hairclips in. If she gets up to five or six hairclips, she’s in a bad way. Unless I’m getting it the wrong way round, of course, and it’s actually the hairclips that are causing the confusion.  Anyway, she only had the one clip in yesterday: not too bad, but the occasional long struggle to find the right word. I found her making some stewed apple for her lunch, and she told me that I could make the tea, because she didn’t want to take her eyes off the pan of simmering apple-slices, which she kept poking with the point of a little black-handled knife to see whether they were getting tender or not. Later on she confessed to me that she’d got to buy two new saucepans, because she’d left a couple of other things cooking on the hob and forgotten all about them, so two of her old saucepans now needed replacing. “Would you like some spare lids?” she said, only half-joking. She can’t bring herself to throw anything as useful-looking as a saucepan-lid away, but on the other hand she doesn’t want an orphaned saucepan-lid cluttering up her house without its parent saucepan, so the best solution she can think of is to try to give the spare lid to me; and if I’d engaged her in conversation about it, she would have started inventing all sorts of reasons why it would be a good idea for me to take it, each reason more far-fetched than the last but each one backed up by a stronger force of insistence. Luckily I managed to change the subject before she got started. My sister’s coming to stay with her next weekend, and I got the impression that she thought she’d better get her new saucepans in place before the visit began, so as to cover her tracks.

Animate Projects

The Animate organisation will be closing its online shop on 5th February, and until then they’re offering books and DVDs for sale at half-price. Why they would want to close the online shop I can’t imagine – I can only assume that nobody was buying anything from it. They say that their products will still be available from the BFI shop and LUX. Anyway, about a week ago I bought the Animate TV collection, which showcases various bits of work going back to about 2007, and I sat and watched about a third of it this morning – it’s got some really great stuff on it. If you’ve got eight quid to spare it’s really worth having. The ones that especially caught my attention were ‘Perpetual Motion in the Land of Milk and Honey’ by Al + Al, and ’13’ by Simon Faithfull. My daughter liked ‘Furniture Poetry’ by Paul Bush. The Animate shop is at http://www.animateprojects.org/shop .


Dr Smoothie in colour:

james bond02I may or may not give him a stethoscope.

I’ve now started work on Dr Hairy’s office:

officeThe reason I do the lines in red to start with, by the way, is because I’m drawing over the top of a photograph and they show up better if they’re red.

Dr Hairy’s Casebook, section 4

Section 4 of Dr Hairy’s Casebook is now available to subscribers, covering the following:

  • Care of people with mental health problems
  • Care of people with intellectual disability
  • Cardiovascular health

Dr Hairy’s Curriculum Casebook is an attempt to bring the RCGP’s GP Curriculum to life, by showing how it relates to the everyday realities of General Practice.

For more information, click here.