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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Dr William Hamilton

...on bombs, bridge and baggage

...on bombs, bridge and baggage

The best thing about my practice is the 15-minute appointments. I get these because I'm quite deaf – in theory to overcome any communication problems. But we just crack funnies for 12 minutes and squeeze the main business into the last three.

The worst thing about my practice is the 15-minute appointments. I don't see enough patients.

The person that has influenced me most is my wife (also a GP). I won't expand as it would be too nauseating. If I talk nonsense, I don't get away with it.

Lecturing has taught me to keep it simple and humorous.

My favourite fictional doctor is Dr Gibson, Molly's dad, in Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. He has the clinical skills allied to plain wisdom that we all need as doctors.

Remaining a GP while being an academic is stressful, with competing demands on my time. I have to ringfence the clinical practice (but don't entirely succeed).

The trait I most dislike in myself is allowing my competitiveness to irritate others. I can be awful at the bridge table.

The trait I most dislike in others is enjoying the sound of their own voice. I have to concentrate to lip-read and hear, so when people spew out nonsense, my eyes glaze over (my ears glazed over years ago).

Listening to my colleagues whining is the most annoying thing about being a GP. We have a marvellous job, are well-paid and are revered by the public.

My funniest moment as a GP was mishearing an incontinent woman's description of her cruise on an air-conditioned ship, and thinking she'd had an air-conditioned shit (which, technically, was true).

An interesting thing people don't know about colorectal cancer is it is linked strongly to diabetes. I didn't know it either, but it came up in a study, only for me to find there was quite a strong literature on it already. Damn...

The vehicles I own are a tractor (the battery's flat), a battered Volvo and a filthy Audi. Cars are for transport, not beauty.

My most treasured possession is my cochlear implant.

My favourite word is a Chichewa one – Katundu. It's the baggage one collects in life.

My guiltiest pleasure is crème brulée.

If I could do one thing to change the world, it would be wrong, probably. The world has a pretty bad history of people trying to change it.

Fear I can't deliver what I've promised keeps me awake at night.

At the top of Kilimanjaro I thought about survival, very rapidly followed by fig rolls.

I relax by walking on Dartmoor.My most vivid schooldays memory is several IRA bombs around my Belfast city-centre school.

CV

• Clinical lecturer, University of Bristol

• Researcher into early diagnosis of symptomatic cancer

• Recently returned to general practice part-time in Exeter

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