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Midnight at the cop-shop

After a busy week in general practice, our new blogger 'Through the K hole' is introduced to his new life as a trainee police surgeon.

On Sunday night and into the early hours of Monday morning I was given a whistle stop tour by an enthusiastic incumbent. At the cop-shop in town I was introduced to the sergeant and the turnkeys and a world that bristled with new terminology.

I was shown around and allowed into the cell block which is a hive of identical concrete bunkers as smooth as pumice. Inside the cells there are CCTV cameras hidden by gauze and metal toilets filled with polystyrene cups and orange vomit.

On a small plinth in the corner sits the accused, cocooned in a sleeping bag. Most were sheepish and a little disoriented, but some knew the game and as soon as theysaw the two of us they demanded their blueies and screamed their disgust.

Even though they had done wrong I felt compassion, after all, a doctor's integrity should be beyond good and evil. My colleague works diligently, he fills the forms and dispenses the diazepam, he takes the pulses and blood pressures and looks into their eyes.

Unlike many of my other patients in general practice these people are not worried about their pensions and prostates. After-all they live in shelters, in crack dens, and in twilight, inside their own windowless-worlds. In the most part they are damaged people who for want of a decent upbringing and a little bit of help are now unable to cope with life's vicissitudes. They have prison skin and prison tattoos, some of them desperate to recycle a life out of past wreckage.

I am now back at home, writing this piece, it's one in the morning and the house is quiet. I have been thanked and told to go f**k myself inthe same week. I have a waiting room full of people in my head and as the jostling voices become mutterings I try to understand it all, this white noise of human suffering.

As I struggle to make sense of today I glance up at my book shelf and see a copy of Ovid's metamorphosis. I realise that we are all mutable, all capable of dropping in and out of one another's experience, all faces of the same chimera. As a doctor I am privileged to leaf through this opus, this text of human life.

One day, I think to myself, I'll write about it, but for this day at least, the book is now firmly closed.

Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Aberdeen.

Through the K hole - credit HaPe Gera, Flickr Through the K hole - credit HaPe Gera, Flickr