Thursday, October 25, 2018

The everyday Bobby

There are many reason why I still do the job I do, and  the  vast array of people and stories that pass through ( or under ) my hands every day is a huge part of that.
I was chatting away to a patient about the Dali exhibition in St Petes and how I was spurred on to go and see the Glasgow Dali again. It’s one of those things that I always intend to do but there’s never ending emails to send, another chapter to write or the weather is good and the dog wants out. The St John Of the Cross lives about ten miles from my house so why did I wait until I was in St Petes before I went back to see it?
I wanted to read again about the way it was painted and how Dali hired a circus acrobat to hang like that so he got the muscles of the shoulder anatomy correct as they strained under that degree of tension.  Chatting to that patient, he said that it was his pal at uni’s Dad who had brokered the deal that brought the painting to Glasgow! And he had just, in past few months tried to get back in touch with that friend via Facebook, only to find that he had passed away late last year. The son (the grandson of the man who did the deal) got in touch so a kind of reunion took pace. One thing he did say was that Dali, on hearing the St John was going to a museum of the people, also gave the people of Glasgow the copyright to the painting.
Another fine character I see often is Bobby, his name has been changed as well all locations  to keep him anonymous and to protect the secret society of fine whisky tasters.                                              
Picture him as a rather odd little character, he dresses in a t shirt and Bermuda shorts in Glasgow,  in winter. He has rather long salt and pepper hair and his bright blue eyes are now rimmed white and glazed over with cataracts. He says he will get them seen to when he has the time. He’s in his late eighties. He runs three miles every day, now on a treadmill as he can’t see where he’s going and falls off the pavement. In his spare time he is a world renowned breeder of …. Guinea pigs and the stories he tells of the world of professional guinea pig breeding would make your hair fall out. It is a fertile ground for crime fiction with the inbreeding, clawing, back biting and that’s just the contestants.
When he was in his mid fifties, Bobby saw the London marathon on the tv for the first time so he thought he’d have a go. Glasgow held its first marathon the following year so he ran that. In three hours ten minutes. He told me that he ran his best 10k when he was in his mid-fifties, thirty seven minutes, god that’s impressive I said, well he cocked his head, it’s not quite true. It was thirty six fifty one.  As if that was less impressive.


What is more impressive is that he had to do his national service and in these days he was sent to a place that  was very cold indeed and stationed there for two years as part of the engineer core.  So far so good, until the day there was an incident between vehicles, Bobby was trapped, not expected to survive. They eventually got him out, he was hospitalised for six months- and much of that was in a coma, walking that a fine line between life and death.  He has no real idea exactly what went on while he was in there but he never says much. One lung,  five ribs less, three cracked vertebrae, one broken shoulder and half a hip bone…. So his trousers never fit right and he always has to wear a belt to give him a waistline.
He’s never lost a day’s work one he came back onto the job market, and obviously the cardiac capacity and gas exchange in his remaining lung is truly remarkable.
And then, both his son and his daughter in law were killed in an incident in London, leaving  three children, including a six week old baby who Bobby and Mrs Bobby have brought up. He  hints that at times, it was  financially difficult as things ‘were different then’.
Oh and what does he put his incredible fitness down to? He's a member of some secret society who taste whisky from very small distillers. I believe he does a lot of sampling….

caro ramsay 26 10 18


  1. It is astonishing what some people do and can tolerate. If it weren't a secret society, I'd ask for contact details. But then I think I'll start my own.

  2. A living example of "this too shall pass." Bobby's an inspiration for our times, guinea pigs and all.