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My rock ‘n’ roll salvation from general practice

In the five hundred-odd articles I’ve written for the medical press over the past 20 years, I don’t think I’ve ever touched on my obsession with rock music. Why would I? There was always enough going on in the mad circus of general practice to occupy my pen. I was writing for Pulse, not NME.

But the obsession was always there. Since that day, aged eight, when I first heard The Beatles’ Penny Lane on the radio and it took me to a world I had not imagined existed. I don’t do TV. I listen to The Who and The Kinks instead. Right now, Brian Eno’s new album is blasting in my ears. Check it out. It’s great.

I’m hanging with rock stars

I always wanted to be in a band. And I was – three of them. They were all rubbish. The closest I got to success was playing bass for the Hartlepool-based post-punk rockabilly combo CJ And The Zombies. We had fantastic reviews; we wrote them ourselves and left photocopies lying around the sixth-form common room. Not even John Peel would play our demo tape. We were that bad.

So I took a different career path: medicine, journalism, the LMC, being a GP trainer and football club doctor for Sunderland and then Hartlepool United. Then due to an intermittent cardiac problem and an ongoing depressive episode that I won’t bore you with, I burnt out. I imploded. So what was left?

Five years ago I invented a club on Facebook with music-obsessed friends called Classic Album Club (now renamed The Real Classic Album Club, on account of all the imitators we’ve spawned). It’s wonderful to spend a Thursday night playing albums, abusing each other and debating just how Johnny Marr managed to get that guitar sound on How Soon Is Now?

One week we listened to perhaps my all-time favourite album, Everything Picture by a band called Ultrasound, and, being slightly pissed at the time, I contacted a couple of members of the band on Facebook and asked them to join in the listening experience. They did, and it was an incredible evening.

Fast forward a year. One thing has led to another. I now run a record label with GP Dr Nicki Waldman and my friends called Classic Album Club Records. We are shortly releasing Ultrasound’s third album (as yet untitled, but it’s amazing) and the first single Wallspace by our other band Nihilists (the band features James Mudriczki who was previously the singer in Puressence, Manchester legends with six albums over the past 20 years).

I’m hanging with rock stars. They work on a different level – all right-brain, while doctors are all left-brain. They’re beautiful, totally abnormal people who are simultaneously loveable and infuriating. It has been the most inspiring and interesting time of my life.

It’s not cheap, but I want to hear this stuff because I know it’s brilliant. Famously, George Harrison funded Monty Python’s Life Of Brian because he wanted to see the film and no one else would give them the money. It was perhaps the most expensive cinema ticket in history.

I’m doing the same on a much smaller scale; it appears to be my coping mechanism, post-general practice. I doubt it would pass a NICE cost-effectiveness assessment, but I guess the most important thing is that it is working.

Dr Phil Peverley is a recovering GP in Sunderland