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As Halloween looms, our diarist finds witchcraft alive and well in the Thames Valley and braces himself for a spellbinding day in court

As Halloween looms, our diarist finds witchcraft alive and well in the Thames Valley and braces himself for a spellbinding day in court

This article is a little trip down memory lane for those of you with a penchant for nostalgia. I've just discovered that witchcraft is not dead. Although a few of you are old enough to remember the Middle Ages, bear with me as you might find this interesting.

I am currently working as a locum at a healthy scattering of practices up and down the Thames Valley. Despite the haphazard lifestyle, I am developing one or two heartsinks. I am not vain enough to think that this is due to personal magnetism on my part. Rather, I think it is the sheer tenacity of the heartsink personality type.

The gentleman I am thinking of suffers from a host of ailments directly attributable to too much coffee, too many cigarettes, too little sleep, and working in IT when his first love is making pizzas. According to him, he's got bowel cancer or possibly worse.

So I was delighted when I called him in and noticed the smile on his face and spring in his step. Before I could ask whether it was due to the PPI, he launched into a rapturous description of an alternative therapy fair he had been to. One lady in particular had accomplished something little short of miraculous. She had told him the endless coffee and cigarettes were dangerously affecting his power points.

She then laid him on his back and took one of his hands in her own, suspended over his chest. They wrestled back and forth for a bit, each pushing as hard as they could, before declaring stalemate. Then she placed a piece of bread from his sandwich on his chin. This brought him out in a sweat. They began pushing again and this time there…

‘...was nothing I could do, doctor! All of my strength was gone!' She removed the bread and placed a vial of cool, clear spring water against his neck and tried again. Problem solved.

And the fact that the constant burning pain in his epigastrium that made him feel he was going to die was now gone with the PPI?

‘A coincidence, doctor.' More water and a gluten-free diet was the way forward, a fact obvious to him but clearly grossly missed by my strict Western medicine.

He forgave me, though. And possibly because I kept a straight face throughout, he relinquished enough to agree to carry on with the PPI. As we were wrapping up, he confessed he could not remember the name of the discipline this charming lady used. It was so tempting to ask if she had arrived by broom.

On a totally unrelated note, some of you may know I was involved in a recent car crash. My advice to anyone involved in such an unfortunate situation: take photos of the site and cars. The fashion models who destroyed my car by trying to turn through it are now saying it wasn't their fault (how dare I get in their way?). And if they wear the same outfits in court as they did when they hit me my only hope is to pray for a female judge.

Dr Geoff Tipper is a newly qualified GP in Maidenhead, Berkshire

Geoff Tipper

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