This column marks the end of four years of my writing for the Medical Observer column Humerus. The GP magazine is undergoing a major revamp and there just ain’t no more room for the funny bits.
That’s okay; publication is a fickle business, and I’ll be writing elsewhere…but until I find another willing publisher, I’ll have to stick to serious stuff rather than these enjoyable frivolities.
Herewith: my final humorous musing.
Goodbye, dear fans. I salute both of you (see you Sunday, mum), and also congratulate any others who stumbled upon this Humerus column believing it would deliver a refresher on shoulder anatomy.
After 45 monthly columns from me, and countless more from others, this is the last you will ever read. That’s if you bother finishing it at all—the last paragraph notably runs out of steam. They may say at my eulogy, “He was a funny fellow until quite near the end.”
Vale Humerus, 2003-16. When I look at my fellow columnists over the years—Ron, Pam, Simon and Sarah—I may not have the most columns to my name, but I notice I do have the most letters to my name. A six-letter moniker is an encumbrance in this cutthroat world of column inches. If the Medical Observer bean counters look offshore to replace us, they’ll head-hunt a Bo, Li or Vy.
The last laugh. The brevity of levity. Closure.
Closure is something I have never mastered, even when it comes to simple things like doors. My more verbose patients play on my handicap, continuing to chat through my doorway even when they’re finally standing in the corridor and I have slowed my smiling and nodding to a catatonic state. Because I bulk-bill, I don’t even get the last laugh at the front desk.
So why was I entrusted with closing a 14-year-old comedy column? I warn you again: if I were the man for the job, I’d have had enough material to prop up the laughs all the way to the final sentence. Strange it’s never bothered me before.
Quit the wit. Gag the gags. Seriously.
The adage “laughter is the best medicine” was invented during the post-war penicillin shortage, mainly to prevent pharmaceutical riots. This glib myth still serves as an opiate of the people, whereas the real people want actual opiates, with repeats.
Future readers will get their dose of best medicine unencumbered by frivolities like laughter and Kerry Millard cartoons. One of Millard’s old ‘toons is prescient: a mother clown explains the presenting illness of her baby clown: “He was OK at breakfast, then he suddenly stopped feeling funny.”
Yep, know that feeling.
I guess it’s time for me to grow up and take medicine more seriously. To stop lampooning our profession, its vagaries and pretentions. Cease poking fun at my GP colleagues, specialists (so much material still left) and you, dear reader. Above all, to lay to rest my incessant self-ridicule.
That said (and in all newfound seriousness), it has been a true pleasure mocking you, and I wish you all the best with your humourless reading.
The End. No joke.