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Chasing autumn leaves

He'd retired from general practice years ago. He now found himself, completely by accident, in the same part of town where he used to work.

His practice was next to the network of canals and train lines that used to serve the local manufacturers. It was mainly textiles and heavy engineering back then but these companies, facing economic ruin, had downsized and in a desperate bid to stay afloat had finally moved abroad.

He walked through the streets of this unearthly industrial landscape. It was full of brick red silence, mill ponds and the rusting hulks of machinery which lay in mechanical rigor mortis. In the distance a digger was slowly knocking down a wall with its clawed bucket.

He walked past his old practice, its doors and windows had been boarded up with thick ply wood and a sign, spray painted on, read that all valuable materials had been removed. Its outer wall was now mounted with curls of ripping barbed wire. The surgery, just after he'd left, had been relocated to a strategically important polyclinic.

At the entrance was the burnt out stump of an ash tree. He remembered back to the days when it stood proud, offering elegant dappled shade in the summer months, its branches covered in a textured veil of succulent green and amber. It had been cut down and the stump had been dissected open.

He peered inside. He saw hundreds of neatly folded prescriptions which had been stuffed into the tree over the years. Presumably by patients who had left the practice and instead of going to the pharmacist next door had decided to get on with their lives instead.

He recognised his own neat handwriting, he even recognised the names of some of his old patients, many had now passed away and the scripts had become yellowed and crisp with age.

He pulled some of them out and watched them blow in the wind. They took off down the street, chasing like autumn leaves.

This is in response to this article in Pulse: GPs set for stricter targets on warfarin treatment

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