Review - Trish Simpson-Davis

...As a lad in the Second World War, Bill lived in Plymouth. He remembers identifying Spitfires and Messerschmitts by their engine tone, a boyish trick he says adults found reassuring. Bill Larkworthy had an unusual background when he went to medical school in the 1950s, for his father was an engine driver, not a white collared professional. One of the earliest beneficiaries of full state funding or higher education, he repaid his debt to society by serving nearly twenty years in the RAF after qualifying as a doctor. In those days there were numerous overseas postings for service personnel, and Wing Commander Larkworthy (as he ended up) seems to have enjoyed globe-trotting as much as the social and medical aspects of his career.

Eventually a locum period in Saudi Arabia led him into civilian life and he spent the second half of his career in Saudi and then Dubai in the United Arab Emirates  in hospital consultancy roles. I found these sections of the book extremely  interesting. For example, I hadn't realised before that private hospitals in the region are better resourced than UK facilities; or that it's feasible to go camping in the desert, provided you have the right permits; or how extremely difficult it is to celebrate Christmas in an Islamic state, though it can be done.

For those who liked the sociability of ex-pat life, Riyadh was an excellent place, provided of course that the ex-patriate could tolerate the dichotomy between Saudi and Western cultures. Discretion and tunnel vision were required to fit in, and though Bill was evidently prepared to be tactful, eventually he ran foul of a powerful boss and was thrown into jail. Of course, a first-hand account of Saudi jail and justice makes for riveting reading, if only to compare with Libya (actually, it didn't seem that different).

Bill then returned to the Middle East to Dubai, at the very beginning of its transformation into a super-city, so here again his comments are of great interest. He built up his own clinic and eventually retired to France.

In the interests of confidentiality, I am not going to  divulge even one of the blackly humorous anecdotes from the consulting room, which give such medical memoirs their unique appeal. I've summarised quite enough for you to decide if you will enjoy this book!

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Latest comments

09.05 | 00:44

Mike, I am Maria, widowof Bill. I have been out of touch with your mum Plse can i have news if you get this. I had fun with your Dad and pray for him.

16.08 | 12:56

Thank you, and how are you now?

16.08 | 12:00

You were a beacon in my gloomy journey with UC! I loved coming to see you!

16.08 | 11:58

Yes I was!!! I was 7 and a half when I started seeing you for post hospital Ulcerative Colitis and stayed under your care for years till late 90s! Mom says hi!

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