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Admissions by Henry Marsh – the bestselling neurosurgeon reveals more

This is a trick question, of course, the answer to which no doctor, or even former doctor, ever wants to hear in detail. Kay grew fed up of friends and people he met at parties recounting their ailments for his expert attention. But as he notes in his book, he prefers it to people asking him to read their scripts.

The medical memoir is not a new idea. His is a much more personal and, not infrequently, flippant recounting of his experiences. It makes for an odd and rapid-fire oscillation between the comic and the tragic that has obviously struck a chord with the reading public.

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The NHS is such a big employer that everyone knows someone who works for it. The problem about assessing its accuracy is that Kay writes a lot for laughs, and his particular style of humour is to ramp up events until they seem too anecdotally perfect to be true. Nonetheless there are many situations that test plausibility. After he is gazumped in trying to buy a flat that he and his boyfriend have set their hearts on, the couple who gazumped them turn up at his antenatal clinic.

All true, he says. On another occasion he deals with a difficult and racist patient undergoing surgery by sewing her up after the operation in such a way as to disfigure her dolphin tattoo. Did that really happen? I fell!

  1. Memoir of William Symington — Stranraer Reformed Presbyterian Church.
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Cue the punchline. I wonder if seeing the absurd lengths to which people go in an effort to find pleasure or stimulation affected how he looked at his fellow humans? Working in sexual health you stop being surprised about the things people do. The book is based on diaries he kept while he was a junior doctor, and he thinks he may have overrepresented the comic incidents because he used to write about them to ease the sense of pressure he felt.

His unquenchable affection, in the highest sense, for his wife and children was very striking and remarkable. In the year I happened to pay a visit to my very kind friends at Lochnaw. Symington, intimating that his son Robert had been deprived of life in a moment. The ministry thus described was kept fresh by unwearied and conscientious study.

Whatever was new and valuable in theological literature was got, so far as his means allowed, and read with care.

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Elaborate digests of the contents are often to be found on the fly-leaves at beginning and end of his books. He kept up also his acquaintance with Hebrew and Greek. And the devotional habits already mentioned quickened all with fresh spiritual life. Another friend whom our father made about this time was Dr.

Memoir of William Symington D. D. (1795-1862)

Welsh, then minister of Crossmichael. Between him and the future moderator of the Disruption Assembly there was a fulness of intelligent sympathy, on questions affecting the Church of Christ in Scotland, which led each to embrace whatever opportunities—not very frequent—they found of meeting. He formed also the acquaintance of Dr. Chalmers, when more than once he came into the neighbourhood on his great errand of church extension; and speaks with warmth of the pleasure he had in spending a day with the greatest man of his generation at Lochryan House in There will be occasion to mention these distinguished friends again.

A relish for evangelical preaching was widely and rapidly diffused, which not only caused his own church to be densely crowded, but which led to the erection of new churches and the settlement of additional ministers, in other denominations as well as our own. Bible, and missionary, and educational societies, libraries and Sabbath-schools, sprang up in the town and neighbourhood.

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A mighty power was felt to be at work. In short, what in these days Dr. Chalmers was to Glasgow, and Dr. Andrew Thomson to the west end of Edinburgh, that, in many respects, was William Symington in Wigtonshire and Galloway.

These qualities were continually operating on those around him. His very appearance was enough to shame away from his presence everything like sloth, or idleness, or disorder, or the slovenly performance of any kind of duty. Although he wrote much and published a little after going to Glasgow, it was in the prime and vigour of his early manhood at Stranraer that the greater part of his literary work was accomplished.

There the demands for pastoral, pulpit, and public labour, although great, were not so exacting and exhausting as in the great city: at any rate, having the will, he made the time. Besides the elaborate sermons which were gathered by the author into a volume in , he published a little work on the profane use of the Lot in , and in the same year a Life of John Williamson, a lad in Dumfries who died at the age of sixteen after giving unusual promise of talent and grace.

This little work he was induced to undertake by his friend Mr. In the same year the Charge to minister and people, delivered at the ordination of Mr. And there is another MS. We ventured to speak of the severe afflictions which marked the years and as resulting in fruit. In each case one of his two principal works followed the affliction at the distance of about twelve months.

Of this latter work we need not say anything, seeing that the reader has it in his hands; but a pleasing story may be told. Chalmers, announcing that the Senatus Academicus of the University of Edinburgh had, on the 20th, unanimously conferred upon me the degree of Doctor in Divinity. This is a most unexpected honour from man, which will require new grace to keep me humble and to enable me to act consistently. The Lord grant the needed grace, and make me more desirous of the honour that cometh from God only. Every circumstance about it was gratifying. Moved by Chalmers and seconded by Welsh, the degree was heartily conferred by the Senatus.

Edinburgh, it was found, had by a few days anticipated his own Alma Mater, Glasgow, which had a diploma filled up and waiting the signatures of some members of its Senatus. And the country minister and his wife, whose frugal care had struggled hard to make the ends of a very scanty stipend meet, after waiting some weeks in fear that a demand would come for considerable fees, found that it never came! The explanation was given some time afterwards, when Sir Andrew Agnew, presiding at a public dinner at Stranraer in honour of Dr.

The origin of another considerable fruit is deeply interesting, in more than one way. In October of Dr. Duff visited Stranraer, in the course of his splendid missionary progress through Scotland; and our father seems to have received a remarkable impulse from the great apostle of modern missions. Notwithstanding a weak frame and a bad voice, his appeals are most impassioned and thrilling. He touches the springs of emotion, lays down the path of duty with unceremonious fidelity, and rebukes the apathy and indifference of professing Christians with fearless independence.

Symington; but the deep impression made now led to its taking a new direction. Symington the honour of altogether originating the New Hebrides Mission which four years later received the sanction of the Synod; but this is the earliest historical trace of that mission, and he did his utmost to help it from the first. In the year before their death our parents had the great satisfaction of receiving under their roof two honoured missionaries, Mr.

Inglis, through whom largely the Lord of the harvest had changed Aneityum into a Southern Iona, and with them a native elder whose baptismal name, Williamu , linked the former savage with the earnest Scottish minister. The success of the New Hebrides Mission has been remarkable; and it stirs many a thought which it would not be easy to express, to reflect that Alexander Duff unconsciously received in old age the fruit of his address at Stranraer. The happy union of the Free and Reformed Presbyterian Churches in , brought the thriving mission in Polynesia under his care as convener: he mastered the facts of its growth, and gave it a warm place in his noble heart; but it is scarcely possible that he could know of the interesting link between and Those who accomplish most for the Lord Christ are those whose faith is the least dependent on knowing about fruits here.

Before passing from the years covered by this chapter, it is right, while omitting much else that might have been of interest to some, to mention two things briefly.

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  • Our father helped his revered brother, Dr. Andrew Symington, in freeing the Church of our fathers from that narrowness in matters of occasional hearing and the like which would have obscured its testimony for great truths by surrounding it with a chill and misty atmosphere, far from being Christ-like. Both brothers did much in this direction, by their personal influence and in the courts of the Church. Indications of a loosening from Stranraer appear in occasional references to the size and scatteredness of the congregation, and in repeated invitations to preach in the West.

    In a call came from the congregation of West Campbell Street, Glasgow, and his diary contains a very remarkable proof of his conscientiousness in an elaborate weighing of the pros and cons. In those days the translation of a minister was almost, or quite, a new thing; and, by the Synod refusing to present the call, he was saved the pain of a public statement.

    A decision then would probably have been in favour of Stranraer; at least, when the West Campbell Street congregation renewed their call in the beginning of he promptly declined it. He seems to have been saved from much anxiety as to his decision, first, by referring back to the exceedingly elaborate calculation of reasons for and against made three years before; and secondly, by the supreme court deciding on the 16th of May to present the call. This was regarded as so far vox ecclesice, vox Dei: and from that date a distinct epoch of his life began.

    In the spring of Dr. Symington was permitted to accomplish a long-cherished wish in a visit to London. He was the guest of the family mentioned at the beginning of this sketch, some of the members of which were among the earliest seals of his ministry. The whole month of April was thus spent; and most interesting records remain in his journal and letters of how each day of the great holiday was occupied. The principal sights of the great city were explored; many meetings of the religious and missionary societies were attended, in some of which he took part; the services of different churches were keenly observed; and a considerable amount of intercourse was enjoyed with persons eminent in the Christian world.

    The holiday was well-timed, as it was certainly well-earned. It was a break in his career, dividing it at mid-time; and the impulse to mind and heart from witnessing fresh scenes and mingling with men and enterprises hitherto known chiefly by report, was the most suitable under which to enter on an enlarged sphere. On the wide field of Christian labour in the second city of the empire he entered two months after his return. The leaving Stranraer was full of distressing heart-strain, and it was a relief when the farewell was at length spoken.

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    He thus speaks of the parting in a letter, dated July 8th, to one of the friends whose guest he had recently been in London:—. The parting with my flock was the most trying event I have ever met with. The affection of my poor people was extraordinary. I never witnessed such expressions of genuine grief. The last Sabbath I was at Stranraer was an awful day to me. The forenoon service was from Acts —27; that in the afternoon from ver.

    Many lingered about the church door to get a last look and shake of my hand; and on Tuesday hundreds followed me to the ship with tears and audible weeping. It was more than I could stand, and I was obliged to keep below till the vessel began to move, and then I went on deck and received and returned their salutations as long as we were in sight. The Reformed Presbyterians in and around Glasgow continued thus until , when the Rev.

    John Macmillan son of the first minister of the Church, Macmillan of Balmaghie became their pastor. He preached to large audiences in the fields till , when a small place of worship was built at Sandhills, about three miles east of the city.