John, he sounds like a tremendous doctor. Amongst the numerous doctors in our family, we always enjoyed the spectacle of great uncle Tom, a splendid, if faintly eccentric, individual who lived amongst his patients in the Fleggs, a remote and marshy part of Norfolk. As an old man, he was joined in his practice by a keen young doctor (my father). Not long after he started, the keen young doctor returned from calling on one of his patients (those were the days), who I’ll call Mrs Smith.
Great Uncle Tom: “How did you get on with Mrs Smith?”
KYD: “Fine, there’s nothing wrong with her, she’s just a little depressed.”
Great Uncle Tom: “Did you give her anything to take?”
KYD: “No, there was nothing wrong with her. She just wanted a chat.”
Great Uncle Tom: “That won’t do, that won’t do at all. Patients expect a pill. You’ve got to give ‘em a pill.”
At that point, he pointed to some large medicine jars filled with brightly-colored pills. The nearest thing they had to an active ingredient was sugar.
Always did the trick, he said.